Efforts to curb illegal fishing see levy collections shoot up

03Dec 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Efforts to curb illegal fishing see levy collections shoot up

EFFORTS by the government to end illegal fishing in the country have seen levies collected during a series of crackdowns to that effect come to a total of 2.2bn/- in the period between December 2017 and this month, up from a lowly 457m/- in the previous corresponding period.

Speaking at a meeting in Mwanza on Saturday called to assess the third phase of ‘Operation Sangara 2018, Livestock and Fisheries deputy minister Abdallah Ulega attributed the boost in collections to the stringent measures taken to plug “embezzlement loopholes”.

“The increase of more than 200 per cent to the fact that there loss of funds was rampant in the fisheries sub-sector,” said a press statement released by his ministry yesterday.

The deputy minister said that, alongside the increase of income following the crackdowns, there was ample evidence that 90 per cent of the catches in water bodies in the country involved the wrong age or size of fish evidently using inappropriate fishing gear or methods.

He said the crackdowns have seen the trend change dramatically, adding: “The population of some of the species of fish that were about to become extinct owing to illegal fishing or overfishing is gradually rising, thanks to the operations.”

Some fishermen in the Lake Zone regions who attended the meeting agreed with the deputy minister that there was indeed need to allow the population of all manner of fish species in water bodies across the country to register a boom “for the benefit of the nation”.

Earlier, presenting a report on the third phase of Operation Sangara 2018 for the Lake Zone, zonal head of the operation Didas Mtambalike said from October to December 2018, a total of  1.172bn/- was collected from fines imposed on those people engaged in illegal fishing.

The operation extended its focus from Lake Victoria to other water bodies in the country, among them lakes Tanganyika, Nyasa and Rukwa, Nyumba ya Mungu and Mtera dams as well as several rivers.

Speaking in Dodoma recently at a similar meeting, Livestock and Fisheries minister Luhaga Mpina lifted the ban on importation of fishing nets imposed in January this year, citing low production by factories based in Tanzania.

In the assessment of operation, Mpina revealed that some key leaders, politicians, councils’ chairmen, local government leaders were involved in illegal fishing and fish smuggling.

The minister said a total of 26.3bn/- was collected in 2017/2018 financial year compared to 18.5bn/- in the 2016/2017 financial year, adding that 9.3bn/- of the amount was realised by auctioning confiscated fish.

Despite the successes, an official at the Livestock and Fisheries ministry in charge of the operation, Emmanuel Bulai, said challenges still persisted. He cited them as including use of unauthorised fishing gear, smuggling of fish products and foreigners entering the country and engaging in fish business without following laid down procedures.

Speaking during the launch of Operation Sangara 2018 in Mwanza earlier this year, Mpina suspended 35 fisheries department for allegedly engaging in illegal fishing by colluding with dishonest fishermen.

He also announced the dismantling of 26 beach management unit committees in the Zone for their alleged involvement in illegal fishing in one way or another.