Minister summons councillors over illegal fishing conspiracy

05Dec 2018
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Minister summons councillors over illegal fishing conspiracy

LIVESTOCK and Fisheries minister Luhaga Mpina has summoned 11 ward councillors associated with being party to conspiracy involving illegal fishing in lakes Victoria and Tanganyika to appear before him in Dodoma today.

LIVESTOCK and Fisheries minister Luhaga Mpina

A statement released by his office yesterday quoted him as having directed that the councillors be accompanied by their respective council chairpersons and district executive director (DEDs).

Those summoned are also supposed to report to the minister armed with exhibits they admitted having been found with when caught in the act in the course of the ongoing countrywide anti-illegal fishing drive, popularly known as Operation Sangara.

Councillors reportedly caught and fined in Chato District, Geita Region, have been named as district chairman Manunga Christian, Ngaze ward councillor Emmanuel Tagota and his Bwira ward counterpart, Sospeter Nyamangondi.

Those hailing from Muleba District in Kagera Region are Yakobo Selemani (Gwasel),   Gideon Alexander (Mafumbo), Mataba Kunambi (Gozba) and Evant Tiletwa (Lulanda).

Those from Tanganyika District in Katavi Region are Teddy Nyambo (Special Seats), Karema councillor Marko Kapata, Mpanda Town councillor Erick Hodari and Special Seats councillor from Sibwesa Ward in  Uvinza District, Kigoma Region, Tatu Rashid.

At a recent Operation Sangara 2018 (Phase Three) assessment meeting in Kigoma Region, minister Mpina said crackdowns in lakes Victoria and Tanganyika as well as Nyumba ya Mungu and Mtera dams had come up with baffling findings, adding that the civic leaders involved in the rot had lost integrity and could no longer ensure the safety of fish resources in their areas of domicile.

He warned that the government was contemplating the revocation of revenue collection licences for councils whose leaders have been implicated in the crime.

He went on to point an accusing finger at the Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA) and the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO), saying they had fallen short of performing their duties to satisfaction.

Tabling a performance review of the 40-day Operation Sangara, Fisheries director (in the ministry) Magesse Bulai said 2,121 illegal fishermen were arrested and thousands of unauthorised fishing gear impounded, confiscated and destroyed.

Visibly baffled, Livestock and Fisheries deputy minister Abdallah Ulega meanwhile said at a meeting in Mwanza on Saturday that the government’s efforts to curb illegal fishing in the country had made levies collected rise to 2.2bn/- during the period between December 2017 and November 2018, up from a lowly 457m/- earned in the preceding corresponding period.

“The increase of more than 200 per cent points to the fact that there was massive embezzlement of funds in the sub-sector,” he said, adding statistics showed that 90 per cent of the catches in water bodies before the operation mainly involved unacceptably small or under-age fishes, a trend that has since changed tremendously.

The big catches that were about to extinct owing to illegal fishing and overfishing are gradually “resurfacing” in Tanzania’s water bodies, thanks to the operation, he said.