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The seizure in Eldoret of a truckload of fish illegally imported from China is the latest confirmation of some fishy business that has been going on for a while.

If properly imported, there would have been no reason for the clandestine handling of the consignment. This matter calls for scrutiny of the fish imports in line with the stringent rules on food handling.

The cargo raised suspicion because the fish was being offloaded into a container in a garage instead of a fish market or other hygienic places.

It raises a public health concern about its handling as it was obviously meant for consumption by locals.

It is, therefore, reassuring that police immediately launched investigations into the matter to ascertain whether the cargo had been approved for sale by the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the importation verified by the Kenya Revenue Authority.

But this incident raises many questions about Chinese fish imports. Who, for instance, are the authorised importers?


How much are they allowed to bring in? What quality tests are done? And finally, are the handlers cleared by the public health regulators?

It is important that the public gets answers to these questions since doubts have been raised about the quality of the fish, with claims in some quarters that it could be contaminated and, therefore, unfit for human consumption.

That aside, the imports have also elicited concern because of the threat they pose to the local fishing industry.

Locals catch some 130,000 tonnes of fish every year. A shortfall of 37,000 tonnes is what importers are allowed to bring in.

Official statistics show that the fishing industry supports no less than 100,000 Kenyans directly and nearly 800,000 indirectly.

Opening the floodgates for Chinese fish imports will, without doubt, ruin the market for Kenyans, denying them a source of livelihood.