Nestled along the shores of Lake Victoria and Kanyaboli, Siaya County has recently unveiled a strategic plan aimed at boosting its fish industry, a move expected to unlock a market worth Kshs 4 billion. Under the leadership of Governor James Orengo, the Siaya County Government is spearheading these efforts, with a primary focus on sustainability in fishing practices and promoting the overall well-being of all fisherfolk.

The commitment to advancing the skills of fisherfolk through specialized training programs is leading these initiatives. Governor Orengo emphasized their goal: by enhancing capabilities within the industry, they strive for more than just sustainability in the blue economy, elevated income levels and improved livelihoods for all members of the fishing community are also at stake.

Addressing the 2023 World Fisheries Day celebrations at Liunda Beach in Bondo Sub County, Governor Orengo emphasized a collaborative approach. He declared, “We will persistently support fish farming as it is integral to our agenda for economic transformation. Our aim? To boost income generation.” The governor’s strategy involves not just an alliance with all stakeholders but also close cooperation, a spirit of collaboration, to guarantee responsible management and development of the county’s abundant fisheries resources.

Lake Victoria and Kanyaboli substantially support fisheries in Siaya County, contributing over 95% of its annual fish production, a staggering volume totaling approximately 30,000 metric tons. This prolific output generates revenue exceeding Kshs 4 billion, an indisputably significant economic boon for the county’s prosperity. In harmony with meeting escalating demands for fish as a crucial food source while preserving aquatic ecosystems globally, Siaya County ardently commits to sustainable fishing practices.

K’Okoth Sylvestre, the County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Food Security, Livestock, and Blue Economy, emphasizes that regulated fishing practices are paramount in safeguarding the fishing habitat. He underscores further that activities that harm juvenile fish or use unauthorized methods must be discouraged, reinforcing a necessary equilibrium between meeting demand and guaranteeing resource sustainability.

Siaya’s strategy notably emphasizes the expansion of fish value addition industries, with particular success at the Lwanda K’Otieno Fish Processing Plant in Rarieda Sub-county. This exemplary facility creates profitable opportunities for utilizing by-catch and low-value fish catches, a move that enhances sustainability and contributes economic value to the industry.

Chief Officer for Agriculture, Food Security, Livestock, and Blue Economy, Elizabeth Adongo, acknowledges the challenges farmers face: changing climatic conditions, escalating production costs, and a burgeoning population. In response, an initiative indicative of proactive leadership, the Directorate of Fisheries has boosted its staff to 42, ensuring that each farmer in the county receives personalized attention. The goal behind this approach is clear-cut: empowering these hardworking individuals with the requisite skills and robust support necessary for not just survival but flourishing within challenging business environments.

Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya have designated Siaya as the official host for the National Celebrations of World Fisheries Day in 2024, a recognition that underscores Siaya’s unwavering commitment to the fish industry. Further affirming this endorsement is an earmarked budgetary allocation of Kshs 1.5 billion towards developing Luanda Kotieno, Asembo Bay, and Wich Lum’s fish landing sites.

Siaya’s commitment to fostering a sustainable and thriving fish industry is further underscored through its partnerships with key entities such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Aquaculture Business Development Program (ABDP), and Agriculture Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP). This commitment was demonstrated through a range of activities, fish parades, boat parades, boat racing, exhibitions, in the recently concluded World Fisheries Day 2023 celebrations under an overarching theme: “Cast the Net.”

Siaya County, in its bold pursuit to unlock the potential of its fish industry, sets a commendable example with an approach that is collaborative, sustainable, and value-driven. Indeed, the journey towards building a robust and sustainable fish industry casts wide; it encompasses not only economic growth but also the preservation of vital aquatic ecosystems for future generations.