COVID-19 Panic Proves To Be Boon For Fishermen In Kenya, Public Is Scared Of Frozen Fish From China

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
COVID-19 panic is proving to be a boon for fishermen in Kenya as the public is scared of the frozen fish that is typically imported from China. Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has become a silver lining for Kenyan fishermen as more people shun frozen fish imported from China for fear of them being infected with the virus.

They now prefer freshly caught fish from Lake Victoria, one of the largest freshwater bodies in the world found in the western border of Kenya, fishermen said.

Fishermen have long complained that the cheap imports were strangling the local business. Kenya bought $23.2 million worth of frozen fish from China in 2018, according to the International Trade Center.

Chinese imports have slowed due to the coronavirus, however, Kenya will soon face shortages of fish if the imports from China do not resume, given that Kenyan fishermen produce about a third of what Kenyans consume.

“As fishermen we can now smile, not because people are suffering from coronavirus, but because we can now sell our fish and at a good price.” Maurice Misodhi, a Kenyan fisherman, told Reuters.

He added that the Chinese lockdown had dried up imports of cheaper fish.

Nile perch cost around $2.50 for 2.2 pounds a month ago but has now shot up to $3.35 for the same quantity as most fish traders who previously bought from Chinese suppliers have now turned to local suppliers like Misodhi.

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“The supply at the Chinese importers has gone down, and many of my customers were also scared of the Chinese fish, thinking they would contract the virus,” said Mary Didi, a fish trader who used to buy from Chinese suppliers but now buys from Misodhi.

“To keep the business running, I had to turn to fish from the lake.”