County issues new regulations for highway fish hawkers

A woman displays fish caught in Lake Naivasha. Nakuru County government has set aside Sh13 million for setting up of a fish processing plant in Banda on the shores of Lake Naivasha. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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The fisheries department has spelt out new measures aimed at curbing the illegal sale of fish on major highways in Naivasha.

Speaking after holding a consultative meeting, sub-county fisheries officer Nicholas Kagundu insisted that fish traders must adhere to the new guidelines or face the law.

He said the sale of fish on highways is illegal and those involved in the trade must have cooler boxes to store the catches and a medical certificate.

“Those hawking fish were doing it against the law. We have issued new measures to guide those involved in the trade,” he said.

One of the measures is those dealing in fish must acquire valid medical certificates issued by certified facilities. 

The traders are also required to use cooler boxes to store fish. 

"You should also not hawk fish in the open, they should be strictly in cooler boxes," stressed Mr Kagundu. 

Hawkers should also sell their products from designated places until a modern fish market being set up by the Nakuru County government and international partners is completed.

The public health department had raised concerns about the quality of fish being sold along the Nairobi-Naivasha highway, calling the practice a health hazard.

“Fish hawking has been identified as a potential public health risk due to the unsafe handling practices, coupled with many hours of exposure, leading to degeneration,” noted Mr Kagundu.

The meeting was informed that fish landing sites posed serious health risks due to traders' unhygienic handling of fish, with sellers not observing food safety requirements.

He disclosed that the Nakuru government had established the County Food Safety Coordination Committee (CFSCC) with the support of Danish aid agency Danida, and Microenterprise Support Programme Trust (MESPT) in the AgriFi food safety programme.

“The CFSCC has subcommittees in dairy, aquaculture and horticulture that directly address food safety concerns in their relevant value chains,” Mr Kagundu said.

The committee, whose members come from all relevant government agencies, holds meetings every three months to ensure food safety concerns are addressed throughout the food production chain for the benefit of consumers.

Some of the traders at the day-long deliberations admitted that they were losing the Nairobi market, saying buyers had started raising concerns about the safety of fish from Naivasha.

“It is true we are having difficulties selling out products in popular markets in Nairobi, largely due to the transportation of fish from Lake Naivasha to Nairobi,” said one trader.

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua urged security agents to enforce the new regulations to the letter, promising tough measures to curb bad practices that are hurting the lucrative sector.

He promised to support the fisheries department to achieve its goals of eradicating poaching, which was threatening to cripple the high-income industry.

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