Artisanal fishermen in Lamu are a worried lot as foreign trawlers continue to fish in deep and shallow fishing areas in the region.
Local fishermen, especially on the northern shores of the Indian Ocean, from Kiwayu to Kipungani and Mpeketoni on the Tana River County boundary, complain that trawlers believed to be from China, Spain and South Korea have been spotted operating illegally in shallow waters at night.
The ships, they say, destroy the fishing gear of locals and damage the sea floor and coral reefs.
Lamu Beach Management Units (BMU) network chairman Mohamed Somo said local fishermen had seen declining catches in recent years.
Trawlers, they said, do not stick to designated areas, adding that areas such as Pezali, Pate, Mwamba wa Hasssan, Mwamba wa Yeye, Ziwayu, Zinyika, Kizingitini, Tenewi and Kipungani were the most affected by destructive trawler activities.
Kenyan law permits trawler fishing starting at five nautical miles but local fishermen lamented that many vessels were fishing as close to the shore as two nautical miles.
In previous years before illegal trawler fishing peaked in Lamu, Mr Somo said, most local fishermen would return home with a bounty of at least 90kg of fish, all caught within five nautical miles into the Indian Ocean. Now they catch less than 40kg.