Wanjohi Kabukuru, by the Associated Press
BHANGA, Kenya (AP) – “Tuna is not for everyone,” said Chapoka Miyango, a 65-year-old handline fisherman on Kenya’s south coast, lamenting from her dugout canoe.
He is one of the many artisan fishermen in Shimoni, a noisy coastal town 82 kilometers (51 miles) south of Mombasa. Numerous fish traders, processors and traders lined the shores waiting for fishermen to return.
“My canoe is only suitable for the nearby coast and only those who have big boats and money can access tuna,” he said. Myongo explains that warm water due to climate change is forcing tuna species to change their migration patterns, making it harder for local fishermen to catch them. Lack of sustainable fishing in large vessels has also reduced fish stocks.
According to records from the Kenya Fisheries Service, the Shimni Channel, formerly a well-known habitat for tuners, has benefited from the northern and southeastern rains that could lead to significant catches.
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But the current monsoon has been ruthless for Myungo. He can barely fill his bucket: his moderate catch of the day includes a bizarre batch of emperor fish.
Yellowfin tuna in particular, which brings competitive prices to the market, may seem like a “good luck break” for fishermen, explains 60-year-old shrimp farmer Majera Magala.
After a seemingly futile five-day hunt, after searching the landing grounds of the Gazi Bay, the Shimni Channel and the Yellowfin tuna on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, one weighing six and a half kilograms was finally caught by an outrigger canoe in the Shimni Channel.
Miongo and Mgala are among the more than 1,500 fishermen who depend on the rich seawater of the Channel. In Mingo’s three decades of fishing, he said, due to the large foreign ships, white-collar jobs and lack of higher education opportunities, more and more young people are opting for artisan fishing and eradicating a changing climate livelihood.
Bengal fisherman Qasim Abdallah Jinjiji added that most artisan fishermen lack the skills, knowledge and financial support to compete with larger foreign ships, mostly from Europe and Asia, which have installed satellite tracking technology to detect various tuna shoals across the Indian Ocean.
Denis Oigara of the Kenya Fisheries Service says the Kenyan government is implementing an economic strategy that will address the effects of climate change on the livelihoods of people on the coast, as well as increase skills among artisan fishermen and promote more sustainable fishing practices.
Subsidies for large-scale fish farming – which has long been blamed for destructive fishing practices – have not been resolved in more than a decade in WTO negotiations. Earlier this year, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, which is responsible for the region’s tuna regulation, criticized its failure to implement measures to protect many tuna species from overfishing.
After crossing the catch limit for two tuna species between 2018 and 2020, conservation groups have called the tuna commission a “decade of failure” that has put tuna stocks in “growing danger.” The World Wildlife Fund for Nature has called for a worldwide boycott of yellowfin tuna.
The Maldivian government, which has unsuccessfully proposed to members of the Tuna Commission to reduce their catch by 22% since 2020, said it was “extremely disappointed” by the outcome of the meeting.
Christopher O’Brien, executive secretary of the commission, said the number of active fishing vessels in the Indian Ocean was declining.
“There are currently more than 6,100 licensed fishing vessels for tuna species in the Indian Ocean. In 2020, there will be more than 3,300 active ships, ”he explained. Myongo and Abdalla’s Dugout and Outrigger Canoe are not among the 6100 ships registered by the Tuna Commission, which is influenced by the industrial fishing fleet.
The Fisheries Commission has agreed to hold two special sessions in the near future to address concerns over the yellowfin tuna stockpile, the first in early 2023.
However, the Commission also passed a groundbreaking resolution to study the effects of climate change on tuna fish stocks in the region, which is recognized as one of the successes of the conference. The aim of this study is to understand the complex relationship between climate change, tuna fisheries and tuna stocks in order to inform about future adaptation and mitigation measures. It is the second regional fisheries management agency to implement a resolution on climate change.
Adam Ziad, director general of the Maldives’ Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture, said: “We are hopeful that the adoption of this proposal will pave the way for long-term sustainability of tuna and tuna-species stocks.” .
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says climate change has reduced marine reserves, shifted fish from low to high latitudes, increased the risk of coral bleaching and collisions on rare earths. These changes are already being felt by the local fishing community.
“The day I started fishing very early and after three to four hours I could catch enough fish,” said Majera Magala, who started fishing in 1975 and dived into the sea in her youth. Lively corals and lots of fish. “Nowadays, I stay at sea longer and still catch less.” ___
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