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Lamu fishermen abandon trade as night ban takes its toll

The number of fishermen in Lamu East have reduced by half following the night fishing ban imposed six years ago.

Since the ban was imposed in 2011, about 50 per cent of the fishermen have left the venture following huge losses.

About 6,000 locals depend on fishing for survival.
The ban was introduced following a spate of Al-Shabaab terror incidents where tourists and fishermen were often kidnapped and taken hostage.

The hardest-hit were areas along the Lamu-Somalia border including Kiunga, Ishakani, Kiwayu and Mkokoni.

Addressing journalists on Thursday, Lamu East MP Athman Sharif expressed concern over the state of the fishing industry, which he said might collapse if the ban continues.

Last week, Linda Boni Security Operation deputy director Ngalia Ndaya announced that talks had already been initiated and that the ban would be lifted soon.

Restore security

Mr Sharif questioned why the ban was still yet the government had indicated security in the county had been restored.

He said there is an urgent need for the ban to be lifted for resumption of normal business for the fishermen.

“I urge the government to hasten the processes to lift the ban. The ban has increased poverty levels among families particularly in Kiunga and Lamu East as a whole.

“I have met several times with those in charge and have also forwarded the matter to the President. I understand our plea has been accepted but there are a few security bosses here in Lamu who refuse to let the ban lifted. We won’t accept that,” said Mr Sharif.

Mr Mohamed Omar, who has been a fisherman in Kiunga for the past 15 years, said the night fishing ban has made more than 3,000 colleagues in Kiunga and Lamu East to quit the activity.

He urged the government to break its silence on the ban saying it led to increased poverty.

Harassment

Mr Omar also complained of harassment of fishermen by security officers whom he accused of demanding to see their national identity cards before they are allowed to ply their trade during daytime.

“The stresses we go through as fishermen in this area are unbearable. We are not allowed to fish at night.

“During the day, you are required to carry your ID card whenever you go fishing. We are tired and that’s why most of us have quit the trade until the government lifts the ban,” said Mr Omar

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