Kenya is showing what can be done about the fish situation in Africa

Inside one of Lusaka's Fish markets
Fresh fish
Inside one of Lusaka's Fish markets
Fresh fish

By Adrain Piers

A news item from Kenya that shows what can be done about the fish situation in Africa. Are we doing enough to address this in Zambia? With our great natural resource base we should be investing in an export focused industry that can be sustainable long after all the copper has been dug out of the ground. Our present focus on just replacing imports with fish for local consumption by farming them is shortsighted. We need a long term plan that will provide employment and foreign exchange way into the future.


Fish Exports earn more than Imports

Kenya earned much more from fish exports in the last three years than it paid for imports despite rising volumes shipped in, and an outcry over foreign sea food flooding the local market. The country earned Sh8.5 billion from selling abroad, which was higher than the Sh4.03 billion paid for imports in the period under review, according to official figures. Export volumes in the last three years stood at 16,429 tonnes compared with 40,991 tonnes imported in the same period.

“The earnings from exports were higher compared to imports because of the high value that Kenya’s fish earned in the world market,” says the Department of Fisheries.

Kenya mainly imports frozen tilapia, frozen mackerels, sardines, prawns and salmons among others. The country exports frozen Nile Perch, tuna, octopus, frozen whole tilapia and lobsters caught in the lakes and the Indian Ocean notably to the EU. Fishmongers have been complaining of an increase in cheap imports mainly from China, which they say affect sales as they cannot compete with the local catch, which are expensive.

The government says Kenya will continue importing fish to meet the widening deficit, due to dwindling stocks both in the aquatic and marine space. Kenya has an annual deficit of 800,000 tonnes, which is filled through imports.Lake Victoria, traditionally a major source of fish in the country, is currently suffering from depleted stocks. The stocks have been dwindling because of the use of wrong fishing gear and overfishing. The government is taking corrective measure such as restocking of the lake and curbing illegal fishing.

Kenya’s per capita consumption of fish has gone up to seven kilos from two kilos in 2008.

The country is yet to attain the full potential in fishing at the Indian Ocean. Under the Exclusive Economic Zones, Kenyan fishermen are allowed to fish up to 200 nautical miles from the shores but they are operating short of five nautical miles for lack of appropriate fishing gear to explore the deep sea waters. Kenya has a large exclusive fishing zone with potential to produce 300,000 tonnes of fish annually estimated at about Sh75 billion. However, it is yet to optimally utilise the opportunity. This has given room to developed nations with advanced gears to explore Kenya’s fishing potential. Illegal fishermen are also using the opportunity to exploit Kenya’s resources.

Source: Business Daily Africa


  1. Can you tell us about Zambias current fish farming production capacity, imports and consumption before we comment ?

    For all we know Zambia could be well on the way of archiving self sufficiency leading to exports , seeing the recent pronouncements on fish farming by president lungu..

  2. When the same is done in Zambia the Humpty Dumpty empty tribal political party criticizes! These guys, I didn’t know, represent their tribe very well!

    • Who told you the same is done in Zambia ??
      This Sharon ati a so called “African affairs consultant” is one sexually insane woman…most likely already on the sexual stalker register with Interpol….

  3. I am applying to become one of this tribe and show them the difference while inside. Can Under Five accept my application?

  4. Yes more of these issues that uplift the living standards of Zambians and less of politics.Well done Kenya for showing us the way to improved livelihoods.

  5. Because of politics the fish situation in Zambia is nothing to talk about. The fish guards are not only equipped but terribly corrupt. Personally I wouldn’t be worried if a whiteman was put in charge of the fisheries department until a level of normalcy was attained.

    • I agree with Ndanje K is right! We don’t need to prove again that Race is a factor! The Colonialists left their colonies in a better state than they are in now long after they left! Not to sound racist, but this is the bitter truth! Some Software upgrade is required! Corruption is on different scales. A lesson from Poultry – some steal one egg from a week’s collection where at least something remains while in the extreme case, some steal the very chicken meant to lay the much needed egg…. It’s a question of values and strength of Public Institutions. When the risk of punishment is slim, corruption thrives with impunity!

    • Nine Chile, having seen how much the fishing was controlled when we had whites heading the fish guards and what has been happening since we took over the responsibility, I am 100% right to bring in colour. In case you’re not there let me explain a bit. During the colonial days there was no fish ban period, but fishing was controlled by strict patrolling of the rivers. Small eyed nets would get you 4 years in prison at Kawambwa. In addition there were areas where fish bred and fishing there was completely not allowed. Today the fish guards are the ones in the forefront flouting all regulations. Hope that vindicates me.


  7. Corruption is most deffiently not an African problem, I am a New Zealander and a victim of corruption in my country, Coruption is rife here but is much better covered up as such a small population.
    New Zealand is corrupt from politicians, Legal profession , Accountants big business etc, as I said here they work like an old boys school and cover up each other corrupt practices and manipulations of the system.
    Your potential for fish farming and proper management of your natural fish stocks can and would bring much needed employment and potential wealth to your beautiful country , United you will stand, devided you will fall
    Stand as one and develop your fishing industry , you will then thrive in that sector of industry . I wish you Zambians well in the future of your fishing…

    • Allan your comment is most welcome.New Zeland is such a small country but when I look at its agricultural exports of about $24bn it blows me away – such a great example for underexploited Zambian agri-sector.

  8. Our Lazy Lungu is a fish farmer on GRZ property…this govt has no robust policy; they would rather go and obtain a $1.2Billion loan for a highway with zero benefit to the construction sector. A Chine compnay will come build and leave with machinery to the next gullible African nation.

  9. When discussing any export venture in zambia you have factor in the cost of transport to an export point. This adds to the sellling price and then we are not competitive.
    Kenya has a seaport, well developed refrigeration and high value marine zambia we have concentrated on tilapia. Here in australia the tilapia come from fish farms in taiwan where they are snap frozen and sent by ship to australia. Retail price for tilapia is equvalent of approx 45k per kg. When we are selling in zambia for 25 to 30k per kg how do u compete. When comparing compare apples with apples, kenya exprts octopus, prawns, salmon, does zambia have zny of these high value products. NO

    • This is the result of visionless leaders! The problem is that just like in farming, government thinks only of one crop, maize! With fish it is only tilapia. Zambia can bring other kinds of high value fish that can be farmed here.

      There are hundreds of crops that have been grown in areas that they were not known before, and exported to markets where there is demand.

      We should be looking for such kind of fish too, not just roses and tobacco!

  10. I read the comments above with interest, yes kiwis are experts at producing a lot from a little, kiwi agriculture also is very diversified , example, we were the first in the world to start farming red deer. I myself have been involved in the beef and deer farming industry for many years but now retired from it or though still keep an Interest in it.
    I have also been much involved with farmland development, water harvest and forestry development plus I have always held an Interest in poultry farming. I believe that fish farming and proper managed qoutered natural fisheries would hold huge potential for Zambia. When entering into any venture thorough research and business planning must be undertaken first whether it fish, cattle chicken farming etc.
    Two heads are mostly better…

  11. I read the comments above with interest, yes kiwis are experts at producing a lot from a little, kiwi agriculture also is very diversified , example, we were the first in the world
    Two heads are mostly better than one but a compenant team inviroment is even better.
    I am a believer in working as a team.
    I myself would very much like to return to your beautiful country of Zambia and work in a team environment in helping your country developed its full potential in farmland development etc, hand on some of my experience and what knowledge i have to others.
    Zambia can be just like New Zealand given the chance and a little help I really do think.
    Anybody want to contact me , my email contact is as follows below,
    [email protected]

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