Fishermen based in Lamu County have vowed to defy a recent ruling made by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that saw awarded Somalia a majority portion of a disputed maritime territory.
The fishermen have maintained that they will continue plying their trade along the rich Kiunga fishing grounds regardless of the ruling.
Lamu is home to more than 7,000 anglers whose livelihoods depend directly on fishing in a 62,000 square kilometre land that has been a bone of contention between the two countries for years.
In a ruling made on October 12, the United Nation’s top court ruled in favour of Somalia in the maritime dispute with Kenya. Still, the latter rejected the verdict and accused ICJ of bias.
Speaking to the media, A spokesperson for Lamu fishermen, Mohamed Somo, said they would continue fishing without fear of reprisal.
“We shall go on fishing where we used to because the court seems to know less about exactly how things are here. It is clear that they do not want to consider what will happen to us,” Somo said.
Save Lamu Vice-Chairman Ishaq Abubakar echoed Somo’s sentiment and urged the fishermen to resume plying their trade because the Kenyan government had assured them of protection.
Abubakar said that the ICJ verdict now threatened the tourism sector and shipping activities.
He further urged the government not to accept the ruling saying that ICJ was serving some unknown colonial masters who wanted to destabilize Kenya.
“If Kenya loses the fishing grounds, more than 50,000 households will be affected by the ruling, which is a terrible thing,” said Abubakar, adding that 80 percent of the county’s catch usually comes from the disputed area.
According to him, fishers have enjoyed their job without fear, especially after officers drawn from the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and the Kenya Navy were sent to protect the borders.
In the past, he said that the ocean and Lamu at large were in constant attacks from Al Shabaab militants who also engaged in piracy.
Immediately after the ICJ made the ruling, President Uhuru Kenyatta dismissed the verdict, which he described as unfair. He maintained that Kenya would do all it takes to protect its boundaries.