China fish imports hit record high of Sh1.7bn

Posted By Stop Illegal Fishing:7th Feb, 2019: Trade

The value of fish imported from China increased by 11.8 percent to a historic high of Sh1.7 billion last year, raising more disquiet from local traders who complain of being edged of the market by the cheaper supplies.

Fresh data compiled by the State Department of Fisheries indicates that Kenya shipped in 22,362 tonnes of fish mainly from China, up from 19,127 tonnes worth Sh1.5 billion that was imported in 2017.

Industry numbers show the value of fish imports have been rising steadily in the past four years as the Chinese take advantage of their cheaper supplies to gain a foothold in the Kenyan market. The matter of Chinese fish flooding local markets even caused diplomatic unease between Nairobi and Beijing last year when President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenyan government officials should find ways of curtailing the imports.

“I have been told about the imported fish from China. It is not possible that we import fish when our local traders are here,” said Mr Kenyatta at the Strathmore University during the 2018 SMEs conference.

In an interview with Business Daily, Mr Paul Oimba, the chairperson of Gikomba Fish Traders said the imports have affected local business because they cannot compete favourably with the cheaper Chinese imports.

“Whereas a 10-kilo carton from China will cost Sh1,800, we sell the same quantity at Sh3,500, making it hard for us to compete,” said Mr Oimba.

He said that President Kenyatta’s directive limiting fish imports should be effected.

Lamu County Beach Management Units (BMUs) Chairman Mohamed Somo yesterday said lack of markets for their fish has left many stores and coolers full of rotting tuna, forcing the fishermen to discard them daily. The situation has subsequently led to a drop in the prices of tuna, leaving many fishermen reeling in losses.

A kilo of tuna normally sells for Sh300 but that has now gone down to Sh100.

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