The call came during the second Eastern African Regional Aquaculture Conference and Exhibition, where Fisheries and Blue Economy Secretary Lucy Obungu delivered a speech on behalf of Betsy Muthoni Njagi, Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs.
PS Muthoni emphasized the importance of cross-border collaboration in developing policies, regulations, and frameworks to promote the aquaculture sector.
She noted that fisheries and aquaculture are vital for ensuring a consistent supply of animal protein, and fish and aquatic species offer healthier sources of animal protein compared to livestock.
“Aquaculture plays a significant role in addressing poverty, food and nutritional security, employment generation, and industrialization in many African countries,” she said.
“It is seen as a key enabler for achieving various United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
Muthoni highlighted the rapid growth of the fisheries and aquaculture value chain, which has been expanding at an estimated rate of 5.3% since the start of the 21st century.
“Kenya is no exception, with millions of citizens involved in various aspects of the sector, including production, processing, trading, distribution, and retail.”
Meanwhile, as the demand for food, especially fish and fish products, continues to rise, Kenya is taking measures to promote the aquaculture sector and ensure its profitability.
The government has adopted the Fisheries and Management Act, facilitating collaboration between government entities, NGOs, and development partners.
Collaborative research efforts are also underway to apply the right technology to aquaculture production.
The government has partnered with international organizations like the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to support fisheries value chain development and aquaculture commercialization.
Initiatives like the Residue Monitoring Plan for aquaculture have enabled small and medium-scale fish producers to access both local and EU markets.
The three-day aquaculture conference, attended by representatives from several East African countries, emphasized the need for technology adoption in aquaculture production to contribute significantly to the global food chain.
It also recognized the untapped potential of the sector and the government’s commitment to exploring it.
“Sustainable growth in aquaculture requires addressing environmental concerns such as river pollution, watershed degradation, deforestation, microplastics, and climate change,” the government noted.
“The call for harmonization of legal frameworks among EAC member states aims to facilitate trade and cooperation in the aquaculture sector, ultimately benefiting the entire region.”