Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tanzania's Indian Ocean fisheries on the brink of depletion: minister

Tanzania's Indian Ocean fisheries on the brink of depletion
A Tanzanian senior government official said on Friday the country's Indian Ocean fish stocks were running dry caused by overfishing and dynamite fishing.

Abdallah Ulega, the Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, said sea pirates were also wreaking havoc in the east African nation's Indian Ocean.

As a result of the depleted fish, Tanzania was currently importing at least 2,000 tonnes of mackerel fish from China monthly, said Ulega.

Speaking on a visit to Mafia Island, Ulega said fish catches in the country has declined to at least 360,000 tonnes in 2016 compared to 390,000 tonnes of fish in 2012.

"The declining fish catches could even be worse as the number of fishermen getting the licenses has risen to over 66,000 in 2016 from 56,000 in 2012," said Ulega.

The minister said 60 percent of the population of Mafia district in Coast region depended on fishing but the declining fish catches was wreaking havoc to residents in the district.

"Illegal fishing and sea pirate is not only a threat to the economy of Mafia district, but a problem that also destroys marine resources, including coral reefs, which are breeding grounds for fish," he said.

Ulega said the government has deployed 2,000 sea patrol army officers to be stationed on Mafia Island to protect and control illegal fishing and pirates from operating in the country's Indian Ocean territories.

"Pirates have no place in Mafia and our ocean territories. We will hunt them down wherever they will be," the minister said declining to give further details for security reasons.

He added that the government was in the process of amending some fisheries laws to enable Tanzanians benefit more from their resources.

A 2017 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said illegal fishing was still rampant in the western Indian Ocean coast, occasioning Tanzania 400 million US dollars loss annually in landings or nearly 1 billion US dollars in processed products.

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