By Dr Edward Kimani & Mary Ontomwa

Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) is set to begin a two-month mid-water trawl survey this week under the Kenya Blue economy initiative. The survey is part of the ongoing stock assessment of the Kenya’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) pelagic fisheries study which commenced in April 2020. The survey is aimed at evaluating the small and medium pelagic fish stocks including small tuna, sardines, mackerel and kingfish in the Kenya EEZ.

FV Jonas vessel at Liwatoni Fishing Port

The objectives are to characterize the small and medium pelagic fish species and biomass including stock sizes and harvestable levels in the Kenya EEZ, to determine the occurrence of potential by-catch alongside the fish being targeted, as well as characterize the primary productivity and physical environment of the Kenya EEZ including fronts, thermoclines and currents from CTD casts. CTD stands for Conductivity, Temperature and Depth, and each cast collects data underwater to help scientists understand the characteristics of the ocean such as currents, its composition and how it changes overtime. The goal is to provide information to support the investment and sustainable use of fisheries resources within the Kenya’s EEZ.

The surveys will be implemented using the FV Jonas in two cruises: the South coast and Pemba Channel, and the North Kenya Banks to be undertaken during 15 days each following sampling stations coordinates determined for the survey.  The cruises will commence in March to end in April 2021. Each cruise will be manned by a team of six scientists and technical staff drawn from KMFRI, Kenya Fisheries Service, and local universities supported by the officers and crew of the vessel. The vessel is equipped with fish finding equipment and fishing gear as well as oceanographic equipment.

 Each of the surveys is expected to deliver a cruise report and technical reports, fisheries and oceanography data sets, whole specimen samples for curation, and reference and scientific publications in peer reviewed international journals.

The main outcomes expected from the results of the two surveys are to improve the data and information available to support science-based investment and use of pelagic fish resources, improve economic activity based on the pelagic fish resources in the Kenya EEZ, and improve the research and technical capacity in pelagic fisheries research.