State officials have also confiscated and destroyed 584 rolls of nets of less than 8mm, worth 100m/-, found at the factory last week, according to the ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.
The swoop by anti-illegal fishing authorities at the factory came about after the recent visit by Fisheries and Livestock minister Luhaga Mpina in the Lake Zone traced the illegal fishing gear.
Speaking here over the weekend after receiving a report on the operation from the anti-illegal fishing team in the northern zone, minister Mpina said that Sunflag (Tanzania) Limited had for the past three years, manufactured and distributed 1,300 tonnes of illegal fishing nets worth 6bn/- which were used in Victoria and Tanganyika lakes.
“For years, fishermen have been blaming the government for not taking action on manufacturers and distributors of illegal fishing gears; that is exactly what we are doing now,” he said.
Northern zone anti-illegal fishing team leader West Mbemati said the search was conducted at Sunflag (Tanzania) Limited premises on Wednesday and Thursday last week and 584 rolls of nets were found ready for distribution.
For his part, Sunflag(Tanzania) Limited general manager Ajay Shah who cooperated with authorities and took part in the destruction of the nets at Arusha dumpsite, said he did not know that the nets were unauthorised.
He asked for licences and the ministry guidelines so that he can manufacture legal fishing gear, a request that minister Mpina directed his ministry’s permanent secretary to work on urgently.
During his tour of the Lake Zone a week earlier, Mpina oversaw the confiscation and destruction of illegal fishing gears worth 2bn/- that were being used in small islands in Ukerewe District, Mwanza Region.
Authorities in the area had also collected 120m/- in fines from fishermen and traders who were caught with illegal fishing tools and those transporting fish and its products outside the country illegally.
This came hardly a week after he ordered intensive audit of revenue collected in the international fish markets located in the Lake Zone following reports of tax avoidance that deny the government billions of shillings in levies and taxes.
During his tour in Galinzila and Kakukuru islands in Ukerewe, Mpina said that the government’s war against illegal fishing had no intention of hurting law abiding businesspeople but targeted those who break the law and squander natural resources for their own interest.
The minister also unveiled a joint team of experts and security organs tasked with stamping out illegal fishing activities in Lake Victoria zone especially in big towns such as Mwanza, Bukoba and Musoma and scores of islands.