A section of religious leaders in the Coast region have welcomed government plans to assist local fishermen to venture into the deep sea.
The church leaders argued that the move would boost the economy and address runaway youth unemployment in the region.
The clerics who addressed a press conference in Mombasa on Friday said government support will generate better income from the fishing industry in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu.
The clerics led by Bishop Josephat Ndumbu of the Soul Harvest Ministries said local communities welcome the blue economy activities aimed at boosting fishing in the high seas.
The clerics under the auspices of Pwani Interfaith Union (PIU) said President Uhuru Kenyatta’s announcement that the government will set up a revolving fund and build cold storage facilities for fishermen will go a long way in lifting living standards for trhe residents.
Bishop Ndambu said the cold storage facilities and fish markets in the coastal villages will enable fishermen keep their catch fresh for long and control prices.
They were reacting to a statement by State House spokesperson, Ms. Kanze Dena who said the government was unveiling programmes to boost fishing in the Indian Ocean following years of neglect.
Ms. Dena had said the state would set up a Coast Guard at Liwatoni in Mombasa to curb illegal fishing in Kenya’s territorial waters even as it facilitated local fishermen to exploit the fish resources.
She said the government is committed to putting in place an appropriate policy and legal framework to support the fisheries sector and the blue economy sector in general.
It is estimated that the country losses about Sh. 10 billion annually due to increased Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in the high seas.
They also welcomed the presidential directive to the Ministry of Education to restore the ownership of all church-built schools to religious institutions, saying the move will give them a chance to instill discipline and morals in the institutions of learning.
President Kenyatta had further directed the Ministry to restore church sponsorship of schools which traditionally used to be under their care.
The clerics also welcomed the appointments of ODM leader, Raila Odinga and his Wiper counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka as special envoys noting that the move will further cement cooperation with government in the spirit of the March 9th handshake between the former prime minister and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Raila was recently appointed as High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa by the African Union (AU) while Kalonzo is the chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evolution Commission for South Sudan.
“We are happy that the handshake has already brought about unity and peace among communities and with the appointment of the two to key continental positions, we expect this peace to deepen,” said Bishop Emmanuel Kashero Lewa.
Dr. Lewa who is the PIU organizing secretary said clerics were elated following the president’s announcement that the Ministry of Education returns schools to churches and other religious institutions saying it was long overdue.
“This presents an opportunity for religious organizations to teach morals and instill discipline in educational institutions across the country in the face of teenage pregnancies,” he said.
Dr. Lewa urged the Ministry of Education to establish chaplain departments in schools and colleges to handle moral issues and reduce the pregnancies.
Speaking separately in Kwale, Imam Sheikh Rashid Munje said promotion of fishing at the Coast would help raise incomes for residents and hence reduce crime.
“We are excited by the government plans to finally boost the fishing sector at the coast which has potential to raise incomes for many residents,” he said.
The cleric asked Government to consider confirming Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) acting Managing Director, Dr. Daniel Manduku saying the performance of the port of Mombasa has improved in his six-month long tenure.
“We are in support of Dr. Manduku’s confirmation as substantive managing director because he has delivered,” said Sheikh Munje said.