The 2022 Lamu fishing competition organised over the weekend made history when the biggest and heaviest fish was caught since the challenge was introduced nine years ago.
The fish, a yellow-finned tuna, weighed 90.6kg. This was the first time such a heavy fish was recorded in the annual competition. The previous records were fish that weighed between 32kg and 70kg.
This year’s fishing challenge was the ninth since the start of the competition in 2014.
The competition is organised annually and sponsored by the Lamu County government under the department of Fisheries, Blue Economy, Livestock, and Cooperative Development.
The event took place at the Lamu seafront, with the theme ‘Promoting Sustainable Fisheries in Lamu County’.
Speaking during the event, Lamu County Fisheries Officer Simon Komu said the main aim of the challenge is to motivate Lamu fishermen to embrace the trade, the economic mainstay of residents.
The event gives fishermen and other fisheries stakeholders an opportunity to bond, he added.
The competition is always accompanied by an investors’ forum, where stakeholders exchange ideas on how best to develop the fisheries sector in Lamu.
Some seven tonnes of fish were caught during this year’s competition, with the top winners receiving cash awards ranging from Sh30,000 to Sh80,000 with certificates and trophies.
Mr Komu described the 2022 competition as the best so far.
The event attracted 44 participants from Kiunga, Kiwayu, Kizingitini, Faza, Pate, Amu, and Shella.
But of the participants, only 25 were able to report back and land their catch at the destined fish landing site at the set of 3pm.
“We flagged off 44 boats at around 4am. The requirements as per the fishing competition are that by 3pm, you should have moved out of the sea and landed your catch at the KPA jetty by 3pm,” Mr Komu said.
“A total of 25 boats managed to report back to the landing site with their catch within the specified time. We weighed the fish, and inserted data before we declared the winners right from number one to four.
“The stage was followed by a fish auction at the Mkunguni Square before prizes were awarded to the respective participants.”
The top winner received Sh80,000 and a trophy, with Sh60,000 and a trophy going to the second-place finisher.
“Positions three and four received Sh50,000 and Sh30,000 respectively. All the winners are also issued with certificates of recognition,” he said Lamu County Fisheries and Blue Economy Director Kamalu Sharif urged Lamu fishermen to embrace fishing on a large scale rather than fishing only for subsistence.
The county government wants to expand the fishing industry.
He said his department is committed to empowering fishermen with modern fishing gear and engines, among others.
“We’re encouraging the production of food on a large scale but at the same time carry it out in a sustainable manner,” Mr Sharif said.
“Our message here is to encourage our fishermen to look for quality fish that are mature instead of catching young fish. Our target is to move from subsistence to large-scale fishing for commercial purposes.”
The competition provides the best platform for local fishermen to display their skills in the trade, said fisherman Ahmed Bahero.
“I love the fishing challenge. It always sees fishermen from all corners of Lamu display the fishing skills that have enabled us to stay in the business. It makes us sharper,” he said.