Fishing environment scaled revamping is a tough climb

23Jan 2020
The Guardian
Fishing environment scaled revamping is a tough climb

ONE of the more difficult sectors to manage and orient in the right direction is fishing, as the number of factors that militate against effective policy action are considerable.

Fishing is an industry where it is impossible to predict that sort of results are likely out of a specific level of investment, for weather or chance factors impinge on each fisherman’s efforts. The product is one of the most highly perishable especially for water fishing, limiting drying options too.

So it appears that the government has a different array of problems in trying to reorganize and set on proper footing the fisheries sector as a whole, one set of problems for freshwater fishing (where the decline in fish stocks is just being alleviated) and another set for seashore fishing. Here the problems appear to be slightly more complicated, but the ministry is doing all it can to solve problems.

It is in this regard that a section of observers are looking a newly unveiled grand plan to revive, build and refurbish fishing ports and markets. The plan which has started to be implemented by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries countrywide is meant to improve service delivery for domestic and foreign markets. While Tanzania has plenty of water bodies and good supply of fish, usually one hears of specific products for instance from Lake Victoria needed outside; other stakeholders prefer to fish in our economic zone, not to buy.

Planned improvement of fishing ports has reportedly started with the city fish market at Magogoni in Dar es Salaam where the government has allocated 2bn/- for major refurbishment for its infrastructure and widening the scope for fish trading. The ministry  contracted Inter Consult Ltd for preparation of plans and estimates for the renovation of the market, within the framework of what the minister, Luhaga Mpina says is part of government intention to  ensure that fishermen are not despised.  It means there is a welfare element as well as economic investment in a strict sense of the term.

Looking at the layout given for the Magogoni fish market, it must be said that it is a belated gesture of improving the environment in which the work is done. It isn’t easy for the layout to change the ‘economics’ of fishing itself, and thus improving the condition of fishermen. Despite the minister’s all out efforts, the give and take between the fishermen and the market is unlikely to change, owing to the number of fishermen wishing to sell, destructibility of the produce and the low purchasing power on the part of consumers.

Equally daunting is how far district councils have the means and will to follow suit in the minister’s stead, for he announced that he had given three months for district councils to improve fishing ports and markets along with facilities such as toilets. Expressing sentiments that were at variance with wisdom among councilors and local government officials, he said he was dismayed by district councils which look upon these facilities as sources of income for them. He said they were not complying with the Fishing Law (Act No 22 of 2003) and regulations thereof of 2009, about which they may indeed have problems they wish to sort out so as to smooth compliance. It is not easy for councils to abandon the ‘source of revenue’ mentality so the problems will not cease.

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