Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (iuu) fishing and other forms of maritime related crimes

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Kenya’s inland waters and along the Kenyan coast could lead to depletion of marine resources if left unchecked.

According to a report on the operation initiated by INTERPOL’S Environmental Security Programme and Maritime Security Sub- directorate and nationally coordinated by the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) based at DCI headquarters, usage of illegal fishing gears and fishing methods are the main contributing factors that could cripple the lifeline of hundreds of thousands of people who depend on fishing.

The maritime intelligence-led operation dubbed IKATERE, whose overall objective was Monitoring and Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities among other maritime-related crimes was conducted between 1st October 2021 and 31st October 2021.

The report noted that the indiscriminate use of small seine nets meant for Omena finishing, was the biggest threat to marine life, leading to the destruction of fish breeding grounds especially in Lake Victoria, Lake Naivasha and the Lamu Archipelago.

This has, for instance, led to a reduction of fish in Lake Victoria, leading to cross border conflicts between Ugandan and Kenyan fishermen who have to scramble for the scarce resource.

Human trafficking also thrives in Kenya’s inland waters, especially in Lake Turkana, where immigrants from Ethiopia illegally use fishing vessels to cross over to Kenya in search of greener pastures.

This poses a great security threat to the country especially in the bandit prone upper eastern counties of Marsabit and Isiolo in the Northern part of the country.

Smuggling of contraband goods has also become rampant, especially in Lake Victoria and the Lamu coastal waters where sugar, miraa, turtle meat and powdered milk is smuggled by criminals masquerading as fishers.

During the operation, a total of 572 arrests were effected in targeted areas of the Indian Ocean and inland waters of Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana, Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru.

Alongside the arrests were thousands of seizures in terms of un-customed goods, prohibited fishing gear and unregistered fishing vessels.

Operation IKATERE was conducted in a multi-agency context that brought together Kenyan law enforcement agencies namely, National Police Service, Kenya Coast Guard Service,

Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, Department of Immigration Services, Kenya Fisheries Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, National Environmental Management Authority and Kenya Ports Authority.

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