Attack on tourism and the environment: Dredging and trawling along Kenya’s beaches

Only yesterday an extensive report was filed here about dynamite fishing in Tanzania, where reefs are damaged beyond repair, and while this criminal practice is apparently not found in Kenya, it is fi

Attack on tourism and the environment:  Dredging and trawling along Kenya’s beaches

Only yesterday an extensive report was filed here about dynamite fishing in Tanzania, where reefs are damaged beyond repair, and while this criminal practice is apparently not found in Kenya, it is first dredgers and now trawlers which do the damage. From information received, it is normally at night time that illegal trawling is carried out, scooping fish off their habitat near the reef, but that of late, even during daylight are such trawlers seen with no apparent intervention from either the Kenya navy or other security agencies tasked with protecting Kenya’s reefs and marine environment.

Feedback received from sources at Diani also affirm that residents are up in arms, as are the resorts and marine sport operators and excerpts from several mails seen demonstrates the intensity of opposition to allowing trawlers so close to the shores in what are supposed to be protected Diani waters with an 8 mile offshore rule clearly being ignored.

This is a report:

Day/Date/Time: Sunday 16th November 3;30pm
Place: Kongo Mosque (Tiwi) 1 nautical mile off the fringing reef (opposite Kenya Navy Base)
Description: A green trawler approx 30mts in length

The vessel was observed at the Kenya Naval Base (Diani) heading on a northern bearing at approx 3 to 5 knots with both trawling booms deployed. After reaching Tiwi Mlango (Kongo Mosque) the vessel changed bearing and headed North East to the port holding area. It was clear the vessel was fishing in view of its reduced speed and fully deployed booms. I believe the vessel returned to Kilindini and that its tactic to head East prior to entering the port was to detract attention from the fact that it was illegally trawling in Kenyan territorial inshore waters. Ie: Returning to port on a westerly bearing, giving the impression that it was returning from the high seas.

Given the original sighting was in fact directly opposite the Kenyan Naval Base (max 1 nautical mile) it seems extremely unlikely that the vessel escaped radar detection assuming that the radar was in use. Further the vessel could easily have been identified with a pair of binoculars and I find it difficult to believe that the base did not see this vessel at all given its extreme proximity and very slow cruising speed next to the reef.

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Given the vessel made way to the port holding area (3 to 5 miles offshore?) east of Kilindini I also find it difficult to understand that there where no other maritime witnesses of the vessel. Indeed the trawler headed towards a large ship waiting to port at the holding area which was also clearly visible from the beach.

I trust this report helps with the required follow up investigation and please do feel free to contact me further for any additionally required information.

Another mail complained about trawling at other places off Diani:

Are we aiming on destroying our South Coast? First we had that dredger/sand harvester and now yesterday afternoon, Sunday at 4.30 p.m. I get reports from people bathing by the Mwachema River (Tiwi River) of a trawler churning everything and going towards Southern Palms Hotel. Why isn’t the 8 nautical mile rule being adhered to? On this note would also like to inform you all that on many nights we do get trawlers coming in close to the reef and then disappearing in the early mornings.

The “trawler” was back last night, reported at 19.30 hrs outside Tiwi. At 21.00 hrs it was outside the Baobab Hotel where it stayed for quite some time. This issue has now gone viral and members of the South Coast Residents’ Association are now asking one very pertinent question. If the “trawler” comes in so close inland and nobody seems to know about it, what if it were not a trawler? Surely this could then pose a breach in security? This vessel could then be anybody!

As the various trawlers could not be positively identified were requests passed to Ukunda based aviators to, when they spot these ships from the air, to overfly at low level and take photographs, as done a few weeks ago with the dredger so that the ship’s name can be identified, the ship’s owners be traced and the vessel be detained when next entering port.

Also did the Kenya Navy come under some added scrutiny as no ships should be allowed to come so close to shore without being clearly identified to prevent any security risks to the country, especially along beaches lined with tourist resorts with all the potential ramifications that brings with it.

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