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Review curfew to allow night fishing, desperate Lamu residents ask state

Monday July 17, 2017

A File photo of Lamu fishermen at the Indian Ocean. /ALPHONCE GARI

Lamu fishermen are jittery about the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed in the area as it will leave them without livelihoods.

The fishermen, who mostly venture into the deep seas at night, said they are yet to recover from the effects of the 2011 night fishing ban.

At that time, the government ordered them to stay away from the lake following a spate of kidnappings and attacks executed by Somali pirates.

The ban lasted more than five years and was lifted on May 1. Its effects included high fish prices and invasion of markets by Somali fishers.

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Acting Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, in a gazette notice on July 8, said the curfew excludes the Islands of Lamu, Manda, and Pate.

But the fishermen said their residences in Kiunga and Ishakani are affected by the order seeking to thwart further attacks targeting locals.

They feel the industry might not survive the effects of the three-month curfew this time round.

The group has called on the national government to spare them so they can continue working at night.

Mohamed Athman, a fisherman from Kiunga, said they further fear the restrictions may be extended should insecurity persist.

He said they are willing to undergo security checks but must be allowed to continue fishing at night.

"Things have been so bad for us. We thought it was finally over but here we are again facing an uncertain future," he said.

"No one knows when the curfew will end. Maybe after two or five years, maybe even never. We appeal to the government to allow us to continue fishing."

The curfew, which started on July 9, is expected to end on October 9 but may be extended if the attacks persist.

Before the latest curfew order, the fishermen were allowed to work at night although with strict instructions to carry special IDs.

They were also required to join Beach Management Units (BMUs) for monitoring their movement.

The fishermen were further required to inform and report at their respective BMU offices before leaving and after returning from expeditions.

"Most fish are only found at night. It is hard to get a good catch during the day. We hope they will consider our plight," Yusuf Omar said.

Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa said those who flout the movement restrictions shall be arrested and prosecuted.

"The curfew is on and everyone must respect it. We won't tolerate movements during curfew time. If you think you can’t respect it, try us."

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