Kenya lifts ban on China fish imports as demand increases

KENYA – Kenya has lifted the ban on fish imports from China as the country continues to experience increased demand that has caused fish shortage in the country, reports Business daily.

The Department of Fisheries in the country, which imposed the ban last year after President Kenyatta issued a directive against importation of Chinese fish in a bid to protect the local industry, said lifting the ban is meant to ease the fish shortage in the country.

“We were forced to lift the ban to ease the shortage after a huge consignment of fish got stuck at the port, impacting negatively on local supplies,” said an official at the Fisheries Department.

Kenya’s fish imports currently stands at approximately 21600 tonnes annually vis a vis 135 000 tonnes produced locally which falls short of its 500 000 tonnes annual demand.

Data from KNBS shows that the country’s fish production from fresh water lakes and marine has been on the fall in the past four years recording a low of 128,600 tonnes.

Most fish processing companies cite unreliable supply from the local market as a major challenge in the sector which pushes for importation.

Farmers Choice, one of the major fish processors in the country, said it currently imports frozen tilapia fillets, normally boneless and skinless, owing to the limited supply locally, reports Business Daily.

“Most locally farmed or wild caught tilapia is sold into the market as whole fish. All our product is sourced from reputable suppliers, and is inspected both pre-shipment and on arrival as required by the Kenya Bureau of Standards, and all licences and standards are complied with,” said the firm.

In 2018, the country’s fish imports from China were valued at US$16.97 million compared to US$14.97 million spent in 2017, representing a 13.3% increase in expenditure on the imports.

According to data from the Department of Fisheries, a total of 22,362 tonnes of fish from China was imported during the period in contrast to 19,127 tonnes imported in 2017.

Frozen fish that included tilapia and mackerel are the most imported fish stock from China.

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