Secretary of Twendekazi Cooperative Association in Mafia district, Twaa Ismail said last week that the numerous licenses which are payable annually have made to work for the state without any profit to take home to their families.
“We thank ActionAid for giving us modern fishing gear including an engine powered fibre boat worth 24m/- but we not benefitting from it because of the numerous licenses and taxes charged by authorities,” Ismail told a delegation of ActionAid Tanzania officials and journalists who visited the island district last week.
He said the ActionAid modern fishing boat has improved their way of catching fish but the hostile regulatory regime is depleting their earnings.”We call upon district council officials to help us by reducing the number of licenses which in some instances are issued for a specific fish species like octopus,” Ismail lamented saying their peers in Tanga, Lindi and Mtwara have no such hostile regulatory regimes.
“Most fishermen in Mafia district are leading a pauper’s life because much of their earnings go into servicing licenses and other tax payments,” the Twendekazi Cooperative Association’s Secretary charged saying others have opted to change their occupation into traders.
Among other licenses being complained against include that of catching Noche-Lobsters, Sea Snail, Crustacean fishing and Octopus which fetch between 16 and 50,000/- per annum each. “As fishermen we need at least one or two fishing licenses so that we can operate profitably hence attract more youths to join the trade,” he added.
Furthermore he expressed thanks to ActionAid Tanzania to train fishermen on entrepreneurship skills and how to form cooperative union that in turn has helped them to recognize themselves and operate their activities more effectively. With modern fishing gear has increased their catches from 25 and 30 kilograms to 70Kg of fish per day.
Responding to the fishermen’s concerns, Mafia District Executive Director, Eric Mapunda acknowledged presence of multi licenses saying each has been sanctioned by parliament and the district council’s own bylaws.
“The fishermen should raise their concerns with law makers and councilors who make these laws and regulations otherwise the district council simply implements such regulations,” Mapunda said while noting that Mafia district heavily depends on fishing as a main source of revenue.
“As district we are just issuing different fishing licenses because the fishing gears that fishermen use differ hence through such a system it is easy for us to track each fishing gear’s activities to also conserve marine resources,” Mapunda added.
On his part, Mafia District Fisheries Officer, Ayoub Sabu said currently the island district has 5,133 fishermen and 1,011 fishing vessels that comprise modern boats and traditional canoes. Sabu said the fishermen are allowed to go and operate anywhere in the country with their licenses as regulations apply evenly.
“Right now no fisherman will be prohibited to fish anywhere they want in the country,” he noted while advising the artisanal fishermen to use the opportunity to exploit the over 1,000 kilometres Indian Ocean coastline from Tanga to Mtwara.