Mwanaisha Mbwana earns her living through selling fried fish at Mwambani, a fishing village along the coast area on the Tanga -Pangani road.
For the last 20 years or so, Mwanaisha has been doing this business, which entails daily movement to the India Ocean, a stone’s throw from the village.
The 40-year-old small entrepreneur wakes up around 5 am and sets out for the seashore to be in time when first arrivals of dhows anchor at the shore.
“The aim is to ensure that I buy fish from early arriving dhows whose owners sell the relish at relatively cheap prices,” says Mwanaisha.
Even then, says the fish trader, prices of the commodity have, for a steady period of over 10 years, been appreciating, forcing her to buy smaller quantities of consignments.
“In the past, I used to buy, for example, three buckets of sardines, but now I hardly afford a bucket (20 litres),” narrates the street fried fish vendor.
The phenomenon is common place in the entire coastal stretch- from Mwarongo in Pangani District down to Kigombe, Tongoni, Maere, Mwambani,Mchukuni, Chongoleani and Kichalikani villages.
After a thorough survey of the problems faced by fishermen and fish traders along the coast of Tanga region, a non= governmental organization (NGO), Tanga Together Trust (TTT), recently formed a programme aimed at proctection and preservation of fisheries resources.
“The aim is to protect and preserve fish resources as provided for in Fisheries Policy 1997,” Aurelia Mtui, the organisation's lobbying and advocacy project coordinator.
Said Aurelia, “Our mission is aimed at educating the entire fishing community on how best to protect and preserve the God-given resources for themselves and future generations.”
Under the project, financed by the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS), three clubs comprising a total of 90 people from three wards, were formed. The wards are Tangasisi, Tongoni and Marungu.
Club members are engaged in seaweed-farming, fishing as well as coral diving.
In each ward, an information centre has been established to specifically disseminate education on how to avoid destruction of fish resource.
The centre shall be used for creation of awareness among the population living in the three wards and its neighbours,” asserts Aurelia.
“Dynamite fishing and the use illegal fishing nets will be among topics to be lectured at the identified centres.”
It is anticipated that the services provided at the centre shall be sustainable, hoping that the government, through its fisheries division shall assist the units as much as possible, in terms of provision of fishing gear and similar equipment to club members, says the coordinator.
In each ward, participants were lectured on the need to abide by the Fisheries Policy 1997 which details the right types of fishing nets to be used during fishing activities.
The policy also restricts the use of dynamite fishing, an illegal practice which destroys not only fish, but also coral reefs – breeding grounds for fish.
Lecturing in one of the wards, Obadia Ngogo, a fisheries officer, told workshop participants that the fisheries policy 1997's, main focus is to ensure community involvement in protection and conservation of marine resources.
“Formation of the clubs is important in that it provides for avoidance of pollution of the sea,” he said, adding that it would also ensure sufficient harvest by fishermen.
On her part, Mwajuma Abdallah, a workshop participant of Mwambani village, called on the government to embark on strategies to ensure dynamites do not land on wrong hands.
“Unless sources of dynamites are identified and the holes plugged, it will be very difficult for us to play our roles efficiently,” she said.