Year in year out fishermen along the Indian Ocean waters from Tanga to Kilwa and to Pemba Island have been engaging in illegal fishing as their main occupation.
Some of them resort to a practice of using explosives to kill habitats of fish for easy collection while others use outlawed fishnets.
What is baffling is that whereas the government has from time to time been laying strategies to contain the vice, including intensification of marine patrol, nothing much has so far been achieved.
The perpetrators, most of them said to be financially well off, continue the operation uninterrupted-a situation perpetuated by corruption on the part of local officials -making enforcement of blast fishing ban, a challenge for authorities.
Normally, the explosions indiscriminately kill large numbers of fish and other organisms in the vicinity, causing extensive damage to coral reefs.
Here one questions the deployment of patrol boats, some of them recently donated by development partners who would like the illegal vice contained.
It is for this reason that Tanga Regional Commissioner Chiku Gallawa, who already had at her fingertips what was going on at the coastal sea, recently issued a directive to Tanga, Muheza and Mkinga districts authorities at various levels, to come up with long-term strategies, specifically aimed at bringing to control the shameful vice.
In one of her familiarisation tour of Pangani District, she was visibly irked by the vice which seemed to show no signs of coming to an end. She then directed districts, wards and villages to join forces in combating the criminal activity, as a matter of urgency.
“It is pathetic that the illegal activity is still in practice in the country, while in a neighbouring country it is history,” she said. “This is a shame to our country and our region. We must, at all cost, work together to combat the illegal fishing practice,” she directed.
Gallawa said she realised that the stringent laws that resulted into the demise of illegal fishing in neighbouring Kenya had now given a leeway for unscrupulous fishermen from that country to venture into Tanzanian waters.
“You should be aware of the development and take the necessary positive steps to contain the situation,” she explained.
Dynamite fishing practices have been on the increase for the last one decade. It is unlikely that the vice will ever be contained because the people who are supposed to combat the malpractice are partners in the activities,” said Mwinshehe Omari, a resident of Kigombe in Pangani district.