Governor candidates pledge to revive Lake Turkana fishing

Turkana governor aspirant John Munyes.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Governor candidates in Turkana County have revived calls for commercial fishing activities in Lake Turkana.

John Munyes (Jubilee) and Jeremiah Lomorukai (ODM) separately said that the Kalokol Fish Factory, a large processing and freezing facility set up by the Norwegian Agency for Development (Norad) in the early 1980s, should be reestablished by the county government.

Mr Lomorukai said that through a functional Turkana fishermen's cooperative society, it would cost the devolved unit only Sh200 million to boost fishing activities.

“Besides investing in proper fishing gear for catching fish in deep waters, cage fishing should also be introduced,” he said.

If well utilised, he said, the lake can act as a crucial source of revenue for the county where hundreds of locals languishing in poverty can turn for their livelihoods.

Mr Munyes said that fishing was the best alternative source of income in the arid and semi-arid region that mainly depend on livestock.

Employment opportunities

He said that if revived, the factory can promote industrialisation, create employment opportunities and boost food security.

He said that if he wins in the August 9 polls his administration would work closely with the Ministry of Industrialisation to bring focus to Lake Turkana, which he said is underexploited though there is a ready market for fish in DRC, Tanzania and Burundi.

Fishermen with their catch at Kalokol area of Lake Turkana.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

“We should revive the fishing industry in Turkana as part of the country's bigger plan of boosting the blue economy,'' the former Petroleum Cabinet Secretary said.

He said Kalokol, a major town on the shores of Lake Turkana, and residents can rely on fishing to improve livelihoods through adding value to fish, creating jobs and increasing income through exporting fish to European markets.

The county produces 15,000 tonnes of fish, with an average annual income of Sh500 million, but it can hit Sh3 billion if the required investments are made, fisheries officials told the Nation.

The county government has been allocating resources through investment in nets and boats and by partnering with development agencies to boost fish-handling facilities.

“If I’m elected as the second governor, the factory will be revived to revolutionise fishing in Lake Turkana. That will economically empower thousands of residents who will directly rely on the lake for producing enough fish for export,” Mr Munyes said.

There are plenty of Nile perch and tilapia among the over 30 species of fish in the lake.

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