War against illegal fishing yields

INSPIRED by record fish harvests of over 448,000 tonnes worth over 2tri/- last financial year, the government envisages increasing production to 700,000 tonnes this year.

Last year’s impressive record that made Tanzania one of Africa’s top fish exporters, according to the fishery subsector, was attributed to fervent war against illegal fishing.

The increase was 15.7 per cent from the 387,543 tonnes of fish and other aquatic organisms that were harvested in the previous fiscal year.

Speaking at a meeting which brought together media practitioners and fishery experts in Dar es Salaam over the weekend, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Dr Rashid Tamatamah said production remains too low to feed over 55 million Tanzanians, underscoring the need for the ministry to work for increased production.

He said from 1990s up to recent years, the quantity of fish has remained constant, at between 350,000 and 400,000 tonnes, annually, while the country’s population has increased by 25 million people to 55 million.

“The disproportionality has resulted into the drop of consumption of fish in the country from 14 kilogrammes per person in the 1990s to only eight in 2019,” he added.

Dr Tamatamah further explained besides patrolling water bodies, the ministry is conducting feasibility study on the appropriate areas for construction of the fishing port.

The Italian firm—Sering Ingegneria—is conducting the study amid talks to secure fund for the project from the Korean Exim Bank.

The permanent secretary further said the ministry is implementing the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth (SWIOFish) project that aims at improving marine areas and fisheries in the targeted areas through engagement of local communities.

Different research findings, according to Dr Tamatamah, indicate that the quantity of fish the country has from water bodies are 2.8 million tonnes, with Lake Victora having the main share.

Data from the industry show that out of the 2.8 million tonnes of fish, 2.2 million tonnes are in Lake Victoria, followed by Lake Tanganyika with 295,000 tonnes and Lake Nyasa 168,000 tonnes.

Dr Tamatamah said small and medium lakes as well as rivers and dams contribute 30 tonnes of fish in the country’s stock, with the Territorial Sea of the Indian Ocean contributing only 100,000 tonnes.

“Briefly, let me say that the fishery sector has been the major source of nutrition, income and employment,” he said, adding: “But in recent years, the quantity of fish is not increasing proportionally to the population.”

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