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Kenya: Fish Stocks Double After Launch of Kenya Coast Guard Services

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Photo: Diana Wanyonyi/IPS

People at Gasi Beach in Kwale County, on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, wait for fishermen to buy the daily catch (file photo).

The country has doubled its fish stocks since the launch of the Kenya Coast Services Guards six months ago, reports show.

According to records in Liwatoni, Mombasa County, the stock has increased by 155,000 tonnes after the KCGS and international security teams stopped illegal fishing vessels from operating in Kenyan waters.

More than 400,000 tonnes of fish have landed at Liwatoni Fisheries Complex since the facility was reopened and KCSG launched in November.

Early this week, President Uhuru Kenyatta said a number of vessels flying the Kenyan flag are operating in the country’s waters.

“I launched the coast guard to secure Kenya’s territorial waters and protect the country from threats that emanate from the sea. I am pleased to say that even before the rehabilitation of the fisheries complex is completed, some 12 Kenyan vessels are utilising the facility,” he said.

DAILY PATROLS

Mr Kenyatta said the service has maintained daily patrols of Kenya’s waters to guard against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, provide safety to seafarers and prevent drug smuggling and the illegal movement of people and goods.

“We should ensure that we land at least 30 per cent of fish caught in our waters. This will be achieved by recovering and securing gazetted landing sites for the benefit of the fishing community,” he added.

The government has set aside funds to support the development of designated ports in the Coast to facilitate landing by deep sea fishing vessels.

The money will also be used to develop aquaculture technology.

The fish landing sites under construction are Kichwa cha Kati and Ngomeni in Kilifi County, Gazi, Kibuyuni and Vanga in Kwale and two markets in Malindi and Mombasa.

According to the 2018 Kenya Economic Survey, the total quantity of fish landed declined from 147,700 tonnes in 2016 to 135,100 in 2017.

This was partly attributed to improper and destructive practices and illegal fishing.

ECONOMIC ZONE

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Kenya’s stocks are also exploited by vessels from distant water fishing nations which access the country’s exclusive economic zone upon paying a fee to the Fisheries Department.

The department’s resources are constrained and it lacks proper training and enforcement capacity for monitoring and controlling the activities of the foreign vessels.

The government has identified a number of blue economy projects in order to fight hunger but illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a setback to the industry.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing depletes stocks, corrodes the marine environment and decreases aquatic and marine biodiversity, scientists say.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that nearly a third of fish resources are overexploited or extinct.

More than half of the global stocks are fully exploited and have reached their maximum fishing capacity.

Only 15 per cent of fish stocks worldwide are under-exploited. However, these are predominantly low value species.

The decline of fish stocks has necessitated the introduction of conservation measures.

OVERFISHING

Globally, more than Sh2.3 trillion is lost to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing every year. Out of this, Kenya loses Sh10 billion.

“The sea cucumber is a rare species. It is very expensive but is being overexploited, leading to the reduction of the species. Regulations are needed for it to recover,” Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute director James Njiru said.

Tuna and sharks are among the species that are declining mainly due to overfishing.

In its latest study, KMFRI says tuna and tuna-like resources globally are valued at more than $42 billion, with the Indian Ocean contributing about 20 to 25 per cent of the total.

In 2003, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission plot of geographical distribution of main tuna species in the South West Indian ocean showed that Kenya lies in the upwelling region of the ocean and supports the second most productive tuna fishing grounds after Somalia.

Reported by Allan Olingo, Antony Kitimo and Siago Cece

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US judge rejects transfers, release from virus-hit Chicago jail

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AFP

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A Chicago judge on Thursday rejected a bid by inmates to be released or transferred from a jail housing 4,500 detainees which has emerged as one of the largest coronavirus clusters in the US.

Cook County Jail in the US’s third-largest city has 276 inmates who have tested positive for Covid-19, along with 172 staff members of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the facility.

However, the jail acknowledged those numbers are likely an undercount, as the majority of its inmates have not been tested.

The jail has seen one prisoner death so far from complications of the virus, but lawyers had filed a petition before a federal court for mass transfers.

In a 37-page ruling handed down on Thursday, District Judge Matthew Kennelly ordered Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to implement new policies to keep inmates safe but rejected the call for them to be moved en masse.

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Kennelly acknowledged the sheriff’s challenge, calling it “an extraordinary difficult task,” but ordered soap and sanitizer provided to inmates and staff, and facemasks for inmates in quarantine with Covid-19 symptoms.

The judge noted the infection rate in Cook County was 1.56 per 1,000 people. In the jail, as of Monday, it was 50 per 1,000 people, he wrote.

The lawsuit, filed April 3, sought a mass release or transfer of elderly and medically compromised inmates.

Dart has said his office has already taken steps to protect inmates and staff, while also releasing several hundred inmates charged with or convicted of non-violent crimes.

Dart said his dilemma is that 70 percent of inmates have either been convicted or are accused of violent crimes.

Jeffery Pendleton, 59, who was being held on drug and weapons charges, appears to have died from complications of COVID-19, Dart has said.

Pendleton, who had 15 previous convictions, including as a sex offender, was jailed because he could not come up with $5,000 — or ten percent of the $50,000 bond set by a judge.

The Cook County Public Defender’s Office filed an emergency motion for Pendleton’s release on March 26 but was denied, four days before he was hospitalized after testing positive for the virus.

“He was and always will be presumed innocent. He died awaiting for his day in court. He should have been sent home,” tweeted Amy Campanelli, an attorney at the Chicago Community Bond Fund, a group that advocates for the elimination of the cash bond system.

Along with releasing more inmates, Dart said on his website that he had taken steps to protect them. Measures included early screening and testing of detainees, and increasing availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation supplies.

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“Detainees who test positive are isolated and receive thorough medical attention and cellmates are quarantined and monitored,” he said.

Dart also banned inmates’ families from visiting and requires attorneys and clergy members to be screened for virus symptoms.

Incoming inmates are housed in tiers where staff observe for symptoms for seven days before they are transferred to the general population. Cleaning has also increased through the jail and inmates are being educated about preventative hygiene.

Yet, those actions, along with creating an 500-bed quarantine facility and moving inmates from double cells to single cells to increase social distancing, did not stop the spread of the virus — nor has it satisfied staff who feel slighted by the focus on inmate safety.

“We have 150 staff members who have tested positive for the virus and everyone is saying we should release all the inmates. They get released, yet we have to stay,” said one sheriff’s deputy who has worked in the jail for nine years and spoke on condition of anonymity.

As for the inmates, he said only 60 have been moved to the 500-bed quarantine facility. Another worker at the jail confirmed that figure.

The sheriff’s deputy added that jail staff did not receive protective gear for two weeks after the first cases were identified at the facility and fears he might bring it home to his wife and children.

“Bringing the virus home is my biggest fear. I have nowhere to isolate away from my family unless I sleep in my car.”

The Cook County Sheriff’s spokesman denied that staff have not been provided with sanitation supplies or protective equipment, adding that front-line workers can get tested onsite.

“We are very concerned about the health and safety of our staff,” he said in a statement to AFP. “To say they don’t have supplies and don’t have an avenue to get them is completely false.”

“We remain in daily contact with the unions that represent staff members, and will continue to work with them to protect our employees and fulfill our obligation to provide a safe, secure jail.”

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In Jerusalem, Christians mark a sombre Easter

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AFP

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Eggs on the table and a toy rabbit on the dresser — with a few decorations, Palestinian Christian Sawsan Bitar attempts to salvage some normality from an Easter overshadowed by coronavirus.

In the Christian quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City that Bitar calls home, roads are deserted and most shops have been closed for two weeks.

All cultural sites in the Holy Land are shuttered, regardless of their religious affiliation, as authorities seek to forestall the spread of the deadly respiratory disease.

Christians will be prevented from congregating for the Easter service, whether this coming Sunday — as in the case of Bitar and fellow Catholic worshippers — or a week later on April 19, in line with the Orthodox Easter.

Despite wars and uprisings, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected, has not been closed over Easter for at least a century, according to Palestinian historian Johnny Mansour.

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Bitar, who is in her sixties, says it is “depressing” that she will not be able to celebrate Easter in church.

Israel — which in 1967 occupied east Jerusalem and later annexed it — has confirmed over 9,700 coronavirus infections, with 79 dead from the respiratory disease.

On the Palestinian side, more than 250 cases have been confirmed, with one death.

Jerusalem is usually the vibrant heart of global Easter celebrations.

Last year, more than 25,000 people gathered near the Holy Sepulchre to attend Palm Sunday mass, which marks the start of the Easter week.

This year, the cobbled streets of the Christian quarter were silent and its dozens of churches were empty for Palm Sunday on April 5.

A lookalike of Jesus, with long hair, a white tunic and bare feet, praying with his bible on the steps of the church of the Sepulchre, cut a lonely figure.

Behind the heavy wooden doors of this holiest of Christian places, there were only 15 members of the clergy in attendance, said Ibrahim Shomali, spokesman for the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

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“But despite the difficult circumstances, there can be positives,” Shomali told AFP.

Streaming the mass direct online, 60,000 people watched, he said.

This Sunday, Easter mass will be broadcast on television and on social networks.

Only six monks will be present in the church, Shomali said.

Watching the mass online will be the only way Francis Gharfah will celebrate Easter this year.

A Palestinian from east Jerusalem, he left his usual decorations in their boxes and chose not to prepare traditional pastries.

“The situation is dramatic,” he told AFP, saying he fears for his job at an NGO due to the virus.

He was “very touched” by the images of Pope Francis celebrating Palm Sunday in an empty Saint Peter’s Basilica, accompanied only by a few religious men and women — each of them perched on separate benches.

“People are thirsty for spirituality,” said Shomali, who finds great solace in a “return of faith” in this dark time.

Bitar attempts to remain upbeat.

“Everything happens for a reason. I hope that we will be different people, that we will appreciate things differently” once the coronavirus crisis ends.

To mark this Easter, Bitar laid out a cloth printed with small yellow chicks and multi-coloured eggs at the entrance to her home.

Her family has created an improvised photo studio, her daughter and grandchildren squeezing into pictures surrounded by a rabbit and flowers.

But all the photos in the world will not be the same as attending church for Easter.

“We live five minutes from the Holy Sepulchre and we cannot go there,” she said sadly.

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US man arrested after beating mom over toilet paper

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AFP

By AFP
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A California man was arrested this week after allegedly punching his mother — who had apparently hidden the family’s stash of toilet paper because of his excessive use of the hot commodity.

Police were called to the family’s home in Saugus, north of Los Angeles, at 3am Monday following a dispute over the whereabouts of the hygiene product, Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, told a local news service.

The argument between Adrian Yan and his mother escalated and he allegedly ended up punching her, Miller said. He was detained on suspicion of battery, she added.

The mother told deputies that she hid the toilet paper from her 26-year-old son because he used too much of it at a time when the product is in short supply because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Miller said the lockdown imposed across much of the country because of the virus has led to an increase in incidents of family violence.

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“It was to be expected, it’s happening everywhere,” she said.

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