Alarm as Tanzania fish stocks drop

Monday December 25 2017

A Tanzanian fishmonger works at a fish market

A Tanzanian fishmonger works at a fish market in downtown Dar es Salaam. FILE PHOTO | NATION 

By APOLINARI TAIRO
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Tanzania has recorded a sharp decline of fish stocks in the Indian Ocean, blamed on the use of dynamite fishing and overfishing.

Recent reports from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries note that sea pirates have been fishing illegally in deep waters using dynamite.

It is estimated that fish catches declined to at least 360,000 tonnes in 2016 from an average 390,000 tonnes over the past four years. Tanzania’s total demand is 730,000 tonnes of fish per year.

Local companies have now resorted to importing fish from China, with data showing that 2,000 tonnes of mackerel fish from the Asian country enter Tanzania every month.

Deputy minister for livestock and fisheries Abdallah Ulega said that the government is seeking to stop the use of dynamite in fishing, which destroys breeding grounds for most fish species.

“The ministry will also educate fishermen on ways to increase output,” said Mr Ulega.

Co-operative societies

The government is encouraging fishermen to form fishing co-operative societies through which it will subsidise 40 per cent of the total costs of the purchase of modern fishing facilities including boats.

“My ministry is looking to attract various companies to purchase boats while establishing fishing ports along the Indian Ocean coast,” said Mr Ulega.

The 2017 report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said illegal fishing was still rampant in the western Indian Ocean coast, causing Tanzania an annual loss of $400 million.

Speaker of parliament Job Ndugai formed an eight-member committee to probe the poor fishing resources and advise the government on best practices to help Tanzania generate more revenue from the fishing industry.

The parliamentary committee formed in November will also assess the impact of poor fishing on Tanzania’s economy.

Mr Ndugai said that the country benefits little from the fishing industry compared with other nations sharing the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean waters. He said that fishing generates 10 per cent of Namibia’s GDP while in Tanzania it accounts for only 1.4 per cent of GDP.

He said Tanzania loses Tsh 400 billion ($200 million) annually from fishing products.

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