Fish shortage has hit Lamu County since the commencement of Ramadhan.
The shortage is believed to have been majorly contributed by the ongoing crackdown for prohibited fishing gear that has seen most fishermen shy away from venturing into the Indian Ocean to avoid arrests by security agencies.
Lamu has over 7000 fishermen operating in the various islands across the archipelago, all of which have been affected by the crackdown.
A fish vendor at Lamu Town’s Seafront Mustafa Shafi, area blamed the situation on the security agencies for arresting and prosecuting them and confiscating the locals fishing gear and vessels.
Shafi insisted that the ongoing crackdown is wrongly timed since Muslims are celebrating Ramadhan, a time when the demand for fish for the faithful’s evening meal is high.
“It is Ramadhan season where fish is highly needed. The crackdown has spoilt everything. We do not have fish to sell. No fisherman is willing to venture into the sea only to end up being arrested and prosecuted,” said Shafi.
Fish, a common accompaniment to daily meal plans in many Swahili and Bajuni households in Lamu and the Coast region.
Last week, more than 20 fishermen were arrested and arraigned in court for using illegal fishing equipment, including monofilament and purse seine nets.
The Frontier Post Reporter observed that most fishmongers within Lamu Old Town on Thursday and Friday remained idle as they had no fish supply.
Cooler ice boxes and fish freezers remained empty due to the acute fish shortage in the region.
Many fish shops in towns like Lamu and Mokowe were closed for lack of supply.
This is the first time, the two towns, which are major fishing hubs in Lamu are experiencing such shortage.
The few supplies that were available were being sold at higher prices of Sh500 per kilo, as opposed to the normal Sh300 per kilo price.
Omar Athman, a fisherman in Lamu said he had to quit the venture since last week after an encounter with the security agencies at sea.
Athman pleaded with the government to provide alternative ways for fishermen to survive in Lamu after.
“Tourism and trade have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and are on the verge of collapse. Fishing is the only venture that enables us to sustain our families. Now that they are frustrating us, let them introduce alternative ways for us to survive,” said Athman.
Mwanasomo Hamisi, a fishmonger at Lamu’s Mkomani area said her family started struggling to fend for itself last week, when the crackdown started.
Ms Hamisi said her key fish suppliers were arrested at a time when she had already paid them to supply fish at her joint.
“My family depends on this business for survival. I have been forced to close the joint as fishermen whom I had paid to bring fish here have been arrested and in police custody,” said Hamisi.
Hawa Salim said since the week began, she has been forced to buy and prepare dried fish meals for her family, which is unusual especially during this period of Ramadhan.
“As a family, we like eating fresh fish every evening when we are breaking the fast. Because of the ongoing fresh fish shortage, I am forced to buy dried fish and prepare for my family which is quite more expensive than the normal fish,” said Ms Salim.