I warmly welcome all of you to celebrate this year’s World Oceans Day. World Oceans Day is celebrated annually on 8thJune world over by stakeholders in the blue economy through rallies, workshops, public meetings, cultural programs, drama, exhibitions, music shows, and demonstrations to highlight the importance of oceans to the world.

Fish forms an important part of the diets of people around the world, particularly those that live near rivers, coasts and other water bodies. However, this proximity has resulted in severe pollution from run-off, domestic and industrial activities. A recent United Nations study reported that more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, increased fishing capacity and global warming. Global warming affects fisheries and aquaculture through acidification of the water bodies, changes in circulation patterns, sea-level rise and associated ecological changes. These changes have the potential of altering the physico-chemical properties of the fish habitats and ultimately affect spawning, survival of juveniles and thus impacting on availability of fish and marine life. Besides, rise of sea level water lead to intrusion of more salty water into rivers delta areas affecting brackish water life cycles. In addition, fish stocks are being depleted through overfishing and use of illegal fishing gears that are more efficient and distractive. This state of affairs presents a crisis in the fishing industry.

The World Oceans Day celebrations help to highlight these problems and consequently trigger the drive towards finding solutions. As a Ministry we are committed to coordinating and facilitating sustainable management of the 200 nautical mile EEZ resources as well as support efforts towards sustainably managing marine resources in High Seas for the present and future generations.

 Kenya recently submitted a Fishing Fleet Development Plan to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and is gearing towards flagging of vessels to enable Kenyans harvest fish from its Exclusive Economic Zone. In our endeavors to be a leading institution in management, research and development of fisheries resources in the region and tackle illegal unregulated and unregulated (IUU) fishing,

Furthermore Kenya is committed towards achievement of United Nations sustainable development goal [SDG 14.4] By 2020 to effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum .Towards this  a new Fisheries Management and Development (FMDA) Act, 2016is  currently under implementation, and intends to unlock the potential of Kenya’s inland, territorial, and oceanic waters. To enable efficient and effective management of Kenya’s fisheries and other aquatic resources, the Act has created the following Institutions: Kenya Fisheries Advisory council (KFAC); two autonomous bodies namely the Kenya Fisheries Service (KeFS) and Kenya Fish Marketing Authority (KFMA) and a semi-autonomous body the Fish Levy Trust Fund (FLFF).

Kenya’s national commitment towards conservation and sustainable use of the marine resources has been further demonstrated through the creation of the State Department for Fisheries and the Blue Economy (SDF-BE) within the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in Kenya via executive order No. 1/2016. In addition to fisheries functions, the executive order has expanded the State Department’s mandate to include coordination of: policy, legal, regulatory and institutional framework for maritime blue economy, enhancement of technical cooperation, maritime spatial planning and Integrated Coastal zone management, protection and regulation of marine ecosystems, protection of fisheries in the EEZ amongst others.   Further, Presidential Blue Committee was established in September 2016 to identify areas of strategic development of Blue Economy in Kenya.

In order to strengthen Monitoring Surveillance and Control (MSC) of the EEZ to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU), Kenya has strengthened its sea going capacity through acquisition Offshore Patrol Vessel, MV Doria that will be operational from August 2017 and recruited competent staff/crew to man it.

Further, a Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) Command Centre equipped with a satellite Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), Vessel Automatic Identification System (AIS) to detect compliant and non-compliant fishing vessels in our waters has been completed and is ready for operation

As you are all aware, fish is a very perishable commodity requiring proper handling to remain fresh and nutritious to eat. My Ministry has over the years increased our efforts in assurance of quality of fish and fishery products countrywide. We have continuously upgraded fish landing stations in Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean to address these concerns. We continue to enhance the capacity of value chain actors especially in regard to proper fish handling and processing practices.

Furthermore, through Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), the country has been successfully implementing the Kenya Coastal Development Project that aims to empower coastal communities to exploit natural resources for sustainability.