Kenya’s Department of Fisheries has lifted a ban on fish imports. This is following a severe shortage after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive against Chinese fish that had flooded the market for the better part of last year.
The ban was lifted earlier on this year. This makes it barely three months after the restrictions took effect in November last year. The President, in ordering the ban, had said it was inappropriate to bring in the fish when local sources are able to meet the demand.
However, an official from the Fisheries department revealed that they have since been forced to lift the ban to ease the shortage after a huge consignment of fish got stuck at the port. This, he said, would impact negatively on local supplies.
According to media reports, Kenya imports approximately 1.8m kilograms of fish per month. There is also a deficit in production as about only 135,000 tonnes is available annually, against a demand of 500,000 tonnes over the same period. Fish imports from China hit Sh1.7 billion last year as Kenya’s appetite for Chinese fish continued to grow. Meanwhile, the country was struggling to meet the demand.
Meanwhile, most factories that import fish have cited unreliable supply from the local market, which affects their customers. For instance, Farmers Choice, one of the local processors, said it currently imports frozen tilapia fillets, normally boneless and skinless, owing to the limited supply locally.
In a statement released to the press, the firm explained that most locally farmed or wild caught tilapia is sold into the market as whole fish. They also clarified that their product is not only sourced from reputable suppliers, but is also inspected both pre-shipment and on arrival as required by the Kenya Bureau of Standards. As such, all licenses and standards are complied with.