Mpina made the announcement here when speaking during the evaluation meeting on the just-ended operation codenamed ‘Operation Sangara’ in Lake Victoria which kicked off in January, this year.
He also announced the launch of the second phase of the operation saying that his ministry was well prepared to make illegal fishing a story of the past in lakes and other territorial waters.
The minister also directed the ministry permanent secretary (responsible for fisheries), Dr Yohana Budeba, and district councils to suspend 35 civil servants of the fisheries department who were allegedly engaging or colluding with illegal fishermen in their respective areas.
He also directed the revocation of 26 beach management units (BMU) committees in Lake Zone after being engaging in illegal fishing activities.
According to him, the first operation unearthed a number of issues with some key leaders, politicians, councils’ chairmen, local government leaders being in the list of those who were engaging in illegal fishing and fish smuggling.
He noted that illegal fishing activities in the country were being carried out by some government officials and that the citizens should not carry the blame since leaders who were tasked to protect are the ones engaging and funding fishing activities.
“During the operation, a total of 4.7bn/- was collected as fines from those who had been engaging in the illegal business while 395,000 fishing nets were destroyed,” he said stressing that; “We will continue maintaining the operations until illegal fishing and smuggling of fish resources in the lake is curbed once and for all.”
The minister said that the operation was legally conducted under Fishing Act, 2003; Environmental Management Act, 2004 and Economic and organised crime Act, 2002 among others.
He went on to remind leaders of all levels to live their oaths as public servants by observing all ethical conduct in managing public resources.
He cited an example of the four million kilogrammes of fish that were smuggled to the countries of Malawi and Zambia crossing the borders of Songwe Region while all leaders were present.
“These actions denies revenues to the government, in the 2016/17 fiscal year, the Fisheries’ department collected 7.2bn/- with councils collecting an average of 4.2 annually which is a small amount compared with the available resources,” he added.
He directed all councils in the country that benefits from the fisheries income to submit to the ministry monthly basis.