The government has once again been prompted to see that the fishing industry is developed and the affluent marine resources in the country are utilised.
Speaking on the subject, a seasoned Dar es Salaam fish trader, Juma Mpoli, who operates at the Magogoni fish market, made evident that it is in the country’s interest to promote Tanzania’s fish market for the multiplier effect will, through value addition attract investment, create new jobs and all in all stimulate economic growth.
In so doing it will thereby improve the livelihood of small scale fishermen as well as the welfare of other countrymen.
The rather disappointed trader, who is also chairman of Kisiju Fishermen Association, complained of what he termed, ‘government’s snail paced investment’ into the sector whose infrastructure is almost non existent.
With majority of the fishing done by small scale fishermen using extremely old methods like the net throw and cast, basket traps and even mere harpoons, this leaves most of the available resource untapped, he said.
He elaborated that the multiple growing advantages and infinite potential of the sector, fish processing that sets ground for value addition through the numerous fisheries products, cold chain (storage and distribution process), boat building, construction of harbours and dry docking facilities, ecotourism, manufacturing of fishing gear and accessories are but a few of the many possibilities that will generate considerable income for all stakeholders including the government itself.
That is not it, other than actual fish, other marine resources are also very profitable and also a source of high value protein and vitamins necessary for a healthy population.
Among these and related items and activities are, prawn and shrimp farming, mud-crab farming, pearl culture, finfish culture, seaweed farming, hatchery for fingerlings production, fishing and culture of ornamental fish, fish feeds production and live food production.
“There is immediate and dire need to do more…,” he said.
While the fishermen and traders wait for the government to take action, statistics show the potential of the sector, its contribution to GDP and foreign exchange as well as the level of employment it can give to the nation.
The sector is a source of animal protein, income generation, employment and recreation among others. The annual fish production is about 341,065.99 tonnes. In addition, the sector contributes about 1.4 percent to the GDP, 10 percent to the national foreign exchange earnings and about 27 to 30 percent to the total animal protein intake in the country.
On average (for the last five years 2005– 2010) fish and fishery products export from Tanzania earned the country an average of USD 195.17m and it employs more than 177,527 full time fishermen and about 4 million people earn their livelihoods from the Fisheries Sector.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Tanzania is one of the largest fish and related marine product producers in Africa and it ranks in the top 10 countries in terms of total capture and fisheries production. Yet this is mostly through foreign investors and companies and does not reflect the local fishermen’s production.
Current, estimates by Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI) conducted an acoustic survey in Lake Victoria which showed that there are 367,819 tonnes of Nile perch, 1,176,372 tonnes of sardines, and 528,169 tonnes of other fish species (haplochrones, tilapia and catfish).
Other fish potentials are, 295,000 metric tonnes (Lake Tanganyika), 168,000 tonnes (Lake Nyasa), 100,000 tonnes (marine territorial sea), and 30,000 tonnes from minor water bodies.
Given the extensive water resources that Tanzania is endowed with, there is huge potential in fisheries resources, capture fisheries and aquaculture in both freshwater and marine waters.
According to the fish stock assessment surveys, the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is estimated at 2,665,360 metric tonnes and that amount does not include the fish stocks in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which is yet to be established.