Govt close to gettingbrid of illegal fishing along Indian Ocean shore

19Jun 2019
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
Govt close to gettingbrid of illegal fishing along Indian Ocean shore

THE government has managed to control illegal fishing on the beaches along the seashore where the problem has been more or less eradicated, the National Assembly was told yesterday.

However, the deputy minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Abdallah Ulega said the government would not relent in the fight, noting that all surveillance centres will be provided with modern equipment.

He told MPs that dynamite fishing was rampant along the country’s beaches but the trend has been reversed following several operations to arrest illegal fishermen.

The ministry is implementing various strategies, including establishing surveillance centres at the great lakes, beaches along the sea and boundaries through the Multi Agency Task Team (MATT).

Others include Operation Johari that was launched early last year as part of a regional crackdown on international unregulated and unrepresented (IUU) fishing on the western rim of the Indian Ocean.

It was undertaken with law enforcement agents from the Deap Sea Fishing Authority, the Tanzanian Navy and Multi-Agency Task Team (MATT). Other measures included Operation Sangara on Lake Victoria, he stated.

The deputy minister was responding to a question by the Kilwa South MP, Suleiman Bungara (CUF) who wanted to know government efforts to stop illegal harvesting of fish.

“Does the government see the need to have a special modern patrol boat to protect the sea and also gas pipelines?” he demanded.

He argued that illegal fishing was on the rise in different places including Songosongo, Samanga, Njianne, Kivinje up to coastal areas of Bushungi, as the gas pipeline passes though these areas.

But the deputy minister maintained that the government was aware of effects of illegal fishing especially explosive fishing, and will ensure the surveillance centres are well equipped.

In 2017, the minister was quoted as saying fish catches in the country declined to at least 360,000 tonnes in 2016 compared to 390,000 tonnes of fish in 2012.

"The declining fish catches could worsen as the number of fishermen getting licenses has risen to over 66,000 in 2016 from 56,000 in 2012," he had stated.

The latest UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) report shows that illegal fishing is still rampant in the western Indian Ocean coast, occasioning a US$ 400 million loss per year in landings or nearly US$ 1 billion in processed products.

Despite concerted efforts by the shoreline countries, including Tanzania, the rate at which unregulated fishing is executed continues to alarm policy makers and development agencies.

“Today, one out of every five fish is caught illegally in the western Indian Ocean region,” FAO said in the report.

The Regional Fisheries Monitoring Plan (PRSP) was created in 2007 by the Indian Ocean Commission, an intergovernmental body formed in the 1980s, as a tool to address the problem.

During the past decade, the PRSP surveillance zone expanded to 6.4 million square kilometres from 5.5 million km square in eight nations’ coasts, the report underlined.