Go back

Kenyan research vessel to monitor ocean health

A research vessel recently donated to Kenya from Belgium will be used to monitor the east African nation’s fish stocks and other offshore resources.

The 60-metre RV Zeeleeuw was donated to the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute by the Flanders Marine Institute through an agreement signed in October 2012.

The ship arrived in Kenya two weeks ago, and is set for a “tentative” launch date of 27 January next year which will be attended by senior Belgian and Kenyan officials.

The renamed RV Mtafiti (Swahili for ‘researcher’) will ply Kenya’s 640 kilometre coastline as well as its offshore exclusion zone, which covers an area one-third of that of the country itself.

“We believe that this area has a lot of fisheries resources that are underexploited. With this research vessel we shall map out major fishing grounds and actual stocks available,” says Johnson Kazungu, director of KMFRI.

Kazungu says the vessel will also gather data to boost KMFRI’s geological oceanography programme, through the collection of offshore samples, and detect nutrient levels using onboard chemical analysis equipment.

Since the Kenyan coast is now attracting large-scale oil exploration, conservation of fish reserves is another of the RV Mtafiti’s long-term goals, Kazungu adds.

“We need proper information to be able to monitor possible pollution effects and its effects on our fisheries,” he says.