Discover how Ethical Seafood Research is revolutionizing Kenyan aquaculture through the Kenya Fish Welfare Project, uncovering key challenges and implementing tailored interventions to improve the lives of both fish and farmers.

Pioneering sustainable practices in Kenyan inland aquaculture

In Kenya, the welfare of fish within inland aquaculture systems has long been overlooked, creating challenges for both the health of the fish and the livelihoods of small-scale farmers. Recognising this gap, Ethical Seafood Research (ESR) initiated the Kenya Fish Welfare Project (KFWP) with the aim of addressing these pressing issues and fostering ethical and sustainable aquaculture practices.

Operating as a non-Kenyan entity presented its own set of challenges, particularly in establishing meaningful relationships and understanding the local landscape. To tackle this challenge head-on, ESR adopted a comprehensive approach. Hiring Faisal Qureshi as Country Director proved invaluable, providing on-the-ground expertise and fostering trust within the community. Faisal was instrumental in establishing partnerships with local institutions such as the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) and the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW).

Uncovering challenges: The baseline survey

The highlight of this partnership — the success of which owes a great deal to Dr Mwenda Mbaka — was the undertaking of a thorough baseline survey aimed at identifying the most pressing welfare challenges faced by fish in Kenyan aquaculture systems. The survey also attempted to uncover the obstacles that farmers faced in implementing welfare-friendly practices. Despite initial hurdles, including the need to secure research permits and other logistical challenges, the project persevered. Insights gathered from the survey laid the foundation for targeted interventions to improve farmed fish welfare.

Key issues for farmers, as identified in the survey:

  • Limited and patchy access to high quality feed
  • Lack of guidance on optimal feeding practices
  • Wasted feed and inefficiencies in feed conversion

The project used this knowledge to develop and implement a tailored training programme focused on improving feeding practices which are known to be a key component of good animal welfare. Supported by seed funding from The Pollination Project (TPP), workshops were conducted in collaboration with ANAW and featuring many leading experts from the Kenyan aquaculture sector, receiving enthusiastic participation from the fish farmers in attendance.

Applying lessons learned for future progress

Looking ahead, ESR is continuing to translate additional survey findings into actionable interventions. With the aim of improving the lives of both fishes and people in Kenya, the project plans to shortlist two to three key interventions for further development. These proposals will be presented to potential funders in the hope of securing support for continued efforts in advancing farmed fish welfare and sustainable aquaculture practices in Kenya.

The KFWP exemplifies the power of partnership and collaboration in addressing complex welfare challenges at the interface of human-animal interactions. By empowering communities and leveraging technical expertise, the project has started the slow process of transforming practices in Kenyan inland aquaculture. As it embarks on its next phase, ESR remains committed to its mission of creating positive and lasting change for fish farmers and the aquatic animals in their care.