Kenya is endowed with both marine and inland water Fisheries resources. Kenya enjoys a vast coastline of 640 km on the Western Indian Ocean, besides a further 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) under Kenyan jurisdiction. The country’s coast is located within the richest tuna belt in the South West Indian Ocean. The inland water resources include lakes, dams and rivers of varying sizes, Further to these there were 69,194 stoked fish ponds in the country (Fisheries annual statistical bulletin 2013).

Fish production in the country is mainly from capture fisheries accounting for 85.6% in the year 2013 while contribution from Aquaculture accounted for14.4%. However the stocks from the wild are generally declining from 200,153 metric tonnes recorded in 1999 to 163,293 metric tonnes recorded in the year 2013. Aquaculture offers an opportunity to increase fish production to meet the needs of the growing population.

The Kenyan fishery is mainly artisanal with few commercial/industrial vessels targeting mainly shrimps and several tens of purse seines and long liners owned by Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFN) which operate under Kenyan license in our Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) targeting Tuna and Tuna like species.

The fisheries sector plays a significant role lin contributing to food security, poverty reduction, employment creation and income generation. In the country in the year 2013 the sector supported a total of 61,252 people directly as fishermen and 67,883 fish farmers with 69,194 stoked fish ponds. Overall the sector supports about 1.1 million people directly and indirectly, working as fishers, Fish farmers, traders, processors, suppliers and merchants of fishing accessories and employees and their dependents. In addition the increasing health concerns have shifted dietary preferences from red meat to white meat which have   better health benefits of which Fish products mainly fall in this category.

The fisheries sub sector provides raw materials to the animal industry for formulation of animal feeds. Whereby about 80% of fishmeal used in animal feeds production in the country is based on fisheries including omena and Nile perch (Mbuta) by-products.  The income accruing from fishmeal is estimated to be over Ksh 80 million per year.  The rise in local production of fishmeal has saved the country substantial foreign exchange.  Apart from animal feeds, fisheries products are also used in many other products including in the formulation of essential pharmaceutical and beauty products such as fish oils which are rich in  Omega -3. 

Fish farming in ponds began in Kenya in 1920s initially using tilapia species (Oreochromis Niloticus) and later including the common carp and the African cat fish(Clarius gariepinus).Farmers in suitable areas across the country are turning to fish farming as a way of producing quality nutritional foods either for their families or for the market which is expanding as communities which were not fish eaters embracing fish in their menu.


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Fish Inputs includes; seeds, feeds, fertilizers, equipment

  • Seeds ; these are the mainly fingering  and fry of Tilapia, Cat fish  and other ornamental  fish
  •  Feeds includes fish mash, fishpellets (floating or sinking) importance of Protein content for growth performance (30%)
  • Fertilizers; both inorganic and organic is utilized , Lime  is used to neutralize acidity.inorganic includes;Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) and UREA.while organic is mostly animal manurefrom cattle, poultry, rabbits, sheep, goats) and decaying plant matter such as cut grasses.
  •  Equipment’s-fishing gears, pond liners and growing tanks


Fish farm ponds systems
Earthen fish ponds are commonly used for land-based aquaculture systems. Fish pond size is determined by the projected fish stocking density, the size of farm and the quantity of water from the water source. Kenya has conventionally recommended 300M2 pond size for Fish Farming Enterprise and Productivity Program (FFE&PP) .  The fish pond is stocked with 1,000 to 1,200 fish fingerlings for a grow-out of 6-10 months. .

Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS)
Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) are the newest form of fish farming production system. RAS are typically an indoor system that allows farmers to control environmental conditions year round. While the costs associated with constructing a RAS are typically higher than either pond or cage culture, the economic returns RAS are high making it a worthy investment opportunity. Recirculating systems advantages includes: greatly reduced land and water requirements; a high degree of environmental control allowing year-round growth at optimum rates; and the feasibility of locating in close proximity to prime markets. Currently Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) investments are being done in urban areas around Nairobi, Kiambu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Tharaka Nithi, Nyeri and Kisumu Counties.

Cage culture production system
The need for the use of cages to rear fish in inland waters is an increasingly becoming popular method of fish culture in Kenya recently. Cage culture initial investment costs are relatively low and simple technology and management methods. However, these water-based culture methods differ from land-based operations such as ponds and raceways in that they are open systems, where interaction between the fish culture unit and the immediate environment can take place with few restrictions, and they are often sited in publicly-owned multipurpose water bodies. Thus any impacts may lead to a conflict of interests.

Raceway fish production system
A raceway, also known as a flow-through system, is an artificial channel used in aquaculture to culture aquatic organisms. Raceway systems are among the earliest methods used for inland aquaculture. A raceway usually consists of rectangular basins or canals constructed of concrete and equipped with an inlet and outlet. A continuous water flow-through is maintained to provide the required level of water quality, which allows fish to be cultured at higher densities within the raceway. Trout fish species are commonly culture in raceways around Mt. Kenya, Aberdare Ranges, Mau Ranges and Mt. Elgon.

Land area  projected land for fish pond construction should be relatively level.  A slope of about 1% is ideal. Such an area should not be prone to flooding,pollution in runoff from adjacent land. If possible, the land must be slightly lower than the water source, so that the ponds can be filled by gravity rather than by pumping.

Water supply for aquaculture are surface waters (streams, springs, lakes) and groundwater (wells, aquifers). Wells and springs are generally preferred for their consistently high quality water. A good water source will be relatively free of silt, aquatic insects, potential predators, and toxic substances, and it will have high concentration of dissolved oxygen.

Soil  should be comprised of good quality soil, with little or no gravel or rocks either on the surface or mixed in Some soil with higher clay content—preferably between 30 and 40%—should be available nearby. In absence of good soils, farmers may consider using dam liners or concrete during fish ponds construction.

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Fish Processing is a way of preserving fish and at the same time improving their quality.  In the process, the form of the fish change.Once a fish has been caught it passes through a number of processes or stages before it is consumed or sold for consumption. These processes may include the following:

• Gutting- this involves the removal of viscera (matumbo)
• Scaling- This is the removal of scales
• Icing- use of ice in ice boxes to arrest microbial degradation
• Transportation to market

Methods of fish processing can be divided into primary processing and secondary processing.

Primary processing includes the steps that enable fish to be stored or sold for further processing, packaging and distribution. These steps are cleaning, heading, gutting, grading, filleting, de-boning, skinning, chilling and freezing

Secondary processing includes the production of value-added products. Such processes are ; washing, gilling and scaling, fining, salting, drying, smoking, canning ,marinating and  Packaging


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Fish and fish products are marketed locally, regionally and internationally.The largest species of Fresh water fish processed and exported is the Nile Perch. Other commercially important fresh water species in the domestic market are the small sardine fish (Omena) and tilapia. The catching and processing of Nile Perch in Kenya has grown from a local activity into a major export industry.

The domestic Market commands about 70% of the total fish market. It is however not well defined or organized and involves buying fish at the beach by small scale traders and selling to various open-air markets and fish shops. The fish are sold either dried, fresh or processed for later consumption.Nairobi forms one of the main destinations for fish from Lake Victoria, Naivasha, Coast (marine) and even Tana River Dams. The main markets in Nairobi are Gikomba and City Markets.The Kenya Government has been  promoting fish marketing in locally through "Eat More Fish Campaigns" accross all the Counties. The campaigns have opened up rural fish markets. Regionally, mainly dried and smoked fish products go to Rwanda and D.R. Congo markets. internationally Nile perch fish and fish products are exported all over the world. 

Export market ;The Nile Perch accounts for 84% of the total fish exports followed by the tuna accounting for13% while the other species account for 3%. Kenya’s main markets for the Nile Perch are, FarEast, Israel and EU (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Italy, France and Spain) which accounts for about 62% of all fish exported from Kenya. The other markets are North America, the Middle East, and other African countries

Marketing of fish and fishery products requires adherence to:EAC Sanitary and phyto sanitary measures,Export and import guidelines,Import and export permits,Healthy certification,Branding,,Kenyan Fish hygiene and handling standards and EU standards.

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The Fisheries Department is the national institution mandated to manage the fisheries sector and currently operates under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries. Basic fisheries legislation is set out in six parts and 26 sections of the Fisheries Act (cap378) .The Act applies to both marine and inland fisheries, and broadly empowers the Director of Fisheries, with the approval of the Minister, to issue regulations to promote the development of fisheries and aquaculture and to ensure the proper management of specific fisheries.

The government policy for the fisheries sub-sector has been to maximize production by proper utilisation of resources. The policy encourages fish filleting for export, rationalisation of tariff structures on inputs of fish processing machinery and support of programmes that provide boats and gear (engines and nets) to fishermen. The government has named processing, which includes fish processing, as a priority area for investment promotion as outlined in the International Investment Conference in Nairobi – Kenya in March 2004.

Fisheries Act CAP 378, National Oceans and Fisheries policy, Aquaculture Policy and Land use act, water act, Environmental Management and Coordination Act,

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the main service providers in the fish sub sector includes;Ministry of Agriculture, livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Industrialization and enterprise development, Fish feed factories, Fish processers, Kenya bureau of standards, Laboratories, NEMA, Liner manufactures, ice producers, cooperatives and transporters.