Why stock assessment of marine resources vital for nationaldevelopment

12Sep 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Why stock assessment of marine resources vital for nationaldevelopment

Tanzania and other African countries alongside the South West Indian Ocean have been told that if they wanted to benefit from their marine resources, the first thing they need to do was to understand the amount of resources or the biomass they have.

Tuna fishing in the Mafia Island in Tanzania. File photo

Speaking last week during the just ended three-day Regional South West Indian Ocean Tuna Platform (SWIOTUNA) training and Annual General Meeting held in Dar-es Salaam, Tanzania, Dr. Bernerd Fulanda from the Department of Marine Science Fisheries Oceanography, Pwani University of Kenya, who was one of the trainers said “The key thing will be doing stock assessment to first evaluate how much they have in the water in terms of the biomass.”

Secondary, and especially for the tuna resources, Dr Fulanda said that since tuna resources are migratory resources, so these governments need to come together and understand that there is migration root for these stocks and licensing in one country can’t go unnoticed by the next country.

Once the stocks move from one country into the next country then it is difficult for a single country which didn’t get a chance to license to benefit.

“Therefore, if we go for regional license which will be distributing the revenues to these countries will be better off.”

He said that the other optional is the enactment of a minimum terms and conditions. “Where the conditions of licensing and revenues are uniform within all these countries such that we don’t have one organization or country going to another country because licensing over there are cheaper.”

But if the conditions are the same then they will be able to get a license from each of these countries depending on the migration position of the resources.

The optional was for these governments to look for the benefit to the local communities; because without the local communities benefiting, conservation become a very big issue. And therefore if the communities feel they do not own those resources they will continue destroying these resources.

“Governments should plow whatever they get from the fisheries sector backing the fisheries sector to uplift the livelihoods of the local communities who are actually the key custodians of these resources.”

He therefore urged the governments to encourage small scale fisheries to keep the data to justify the government plowing of resources backing to these fisheries. “Because of poor statistics governments find it difficult to invest in this sector,” he noted.

Dr Fulanda further said that if small scale fisheries own the resources, conservation and the issue of resource management will be given an up-hand when it comes to the defending of these resources such that the communities feel the resources belong to them. And they can actually manage the resources knowing are theirs.

“So, we need to transfer ownership and convince the local communities that the revenues belong to them and are for their own benefits and future generations.”

Meanwhile, Dr Fulanda has urged governments that if they want to get more revenues from fish catch by foreign vessels using licenses that were licensed in their countries, to force those vessels to land fish in a country where they licensed these vessels.

Otherwise they will get a license in Kenya, but land the fish in Tanzania. Or get license in Tanzania, fishing in the waters of Tanzania, but land the fish in Mozambique.

For his part, Secretary General Southern African Non State Actors Platform in Fisheries and Aqua Culture within SADC Regional, and a Professor at the Totiara University in Madagascar, who was one of the participants to that training, Dr Paubert Mahatante, also concurred with Dr Fulanda by saying that if these countries wanted to immensely benefit from their marine resources, they should first assess the biomass.

“We should know how much biomass do we have, how much can we sell, and how are going to manage that. “We should start by establishing a very good management plan, and that should be justified from using relevant data. And this is how we can improve the way we are using our resources in a sustainable way.”

Dr. Mahatante further said “So, we start from establishing a very good management plan and that should be justified from using relevant statistical data. And this is how we can improve the way we use our resources in a sustainable way.”

The second thing they should do is to promote the local fisheries because it is from the local production that they can sustainably fight against food insecurity.

The third thing they need to do is to target export. This exportation also should be done in a sustainable way where they can benefit as a regional far away from corruption through involving other stakeholders such as civil society organisation and the private sector to sit on the same table with the government and discuss all fisheries agreements in the region.

“This is how we can improve the fisheries production in our region,” he said.

In Tanzania, tuna fishing is undertaken within the territorial waters that measure 64,000 km2 and the 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that measures 223,000km2. The potential for the fishery is largely unknown.

For her part, Marine Programme Officer with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Tanzania, Lyidia Mwakanema, said that Tanzania has limited capacity to exploit tuna fisheries resources in her EEZ. The country licenses Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) fleets to harvest tuna resources and other highly migratory species.

The Deep Sea Fishing Authority (DFSA) is responsible for the management and development of tuna fisheries resources in both mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.

The Authority licences deep sea fishing operations carries out surveillances and fights illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) fishing. The DSFA has established a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) as part of its Monitoring Control and Surveillance (MCS) capacity building.

In 2009, one foreign vessel was arrested for illegally fishing in Tanzania with some 293.77 Mt of tuna and tuna-like species on board. In 2011, some 1302 Mt of tuna and tuna-like species were harvested by DWFNs.

Since 2010, only Spain and French vessels have been fishing in Tanzania waters, representing a 60 percent decline in the number of licenced boats.

Chairman of the Tanzania Tuna Fishery National Alliance, Mr. Mohamed Mohidin said  “This country might be losing billions of shillings from tuna catches by foreign vessels in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

He therefore urged that in order to maximise returns from Tanzania’s EEZ, there is need to provide enabling policy and legal environment to allow local investors to venture in the tuna sector, enter joint ventures with DWFNs, develop national tuna fleet, develop the infrastructure (porting, transshipment, cold storage facilities), train and build the capacity of local fishers.

He further suggested “There is also a need to improve on fisheries statistical data collection systems as well as and research, test and introduce fish aggregating devices (FADs) fishing technology, carry out value chain analysis of deep sea fisheries and effect best licencing practices based on economic and conservation concerns.”

Concurring with the previous speakers, to Regional Fisheries Programme Manager WWF Mozambique, Mr. Edward Kimakwa, said there was limited data on how much tuna stock was exploited by foreign vessels also known as distant water fishing nations due to weak monitoring, control and surveillance.

According to him (Kimakwa) the fisheries sector contributed 1.4 per cent to Tanzania’s gross domestic product (GDP), adding that in 2010 an average of 1,021.6 tonnes were obtained from Tanzania’s EEZ while 7,834.8 were obtained from Mainland Tanzania artisanal fishery.

Meanwhile, Kimakwa mentioned the overall objective of the training was to enhance the capacity of the participants to have some in-depth understanding on fisheries access arrangements.

These include forms and their impacts to stock sustainability, socio-economic returns to respective countries, and negotiations approaches and tactics, and how to effectively manage fisheries access arrangements/ partnership agreements.

He further mentioned the specific objectives as: to understand the types and forms of fisheries access arrangements and how to effectively negotiate for them.

Understand the regional Fisheries Governance Frameworks in the SWIO region and the role of CSO in driving reforms in influencing fair and equitable fisheries access arrangements.

Facilitate cooperation and collective approach to fisheries access arrangements by the SWIOFC member states, including lobbying for the implementation of regional Minimum Terms & Conditions for fisheries access in the SWIO region.

The training was organised by the South West Indian Ocean Tuna Forum (SWIOTUNA) with financial support from WWF Mozambique Regional Fisheries Programme.