Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

20 July 2012

Tanzania: Law to Protect Marine Life Amended

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Fishermen return after a night of fishing.

A LAW to protect marine resources will be strengthened following plans to amend the Marine Park Act of 1994 later this year.

Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Development, Dr David Mathayo David said amendment to the act will seek to protect fish's breeding ground against acts of sabotage including dynamite fishing.

"People who are opposed to this development do not wish this country's future well because our intention is to protect the future of our children," Dr Mathayo told 'Daily News' over the phone from Dodoma as hotel owners get worried by the ministry's progressive conservation activities.

Meeting in Tanga last weekend, members of Tanga Tourism Network Association (TATONA) said plans to amend the 1994 Marine Park Act and 2009 gazetting of Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park (TACMP) are threatening survival of the country's tourism industry.

During the meeting which was also attended by members of Marine Parks and Reserves Unit (MPRU) task force, TATONA expressed concern at the rapid development in conservation plans by the government."TATONA Task Force members stressed that the marketing of TACMP in the tourism market cannot make much use of the Coelacanths, as they are only accessible with research submarine vessels and Remote Operating Vehicles (ROVs), and can thus not be seen by tourists," a leaked report by the tourist organization said.

TATONA also expressed concern at effects of legislating all areas along the 800 kilometres Indian Ocean coastline stretching from Tanga to Mtwara saying the tourism sector will badly be affected. "The bill will have an effect on Marine Parks all along the coast, from Tanga to Dar es Salaam, Mafia Island and Mtwara," said Sibylle Riedmiller, Secretary of TATONA said in an email message while responding to 'Daily News' questions.

Riedmiller suggested that because of the impact of the amended Marine Park Act on the tourism sector, Tanzania Chamber of Tourism (TCT) and Hotels Association of Tanzania (HAT) must issue statements and possibly interact with the ministry.

But Dr Mathayo said there is nothing to fear because the future of tourism and hotel industry is in protecting marine life against illegal fishermen. "It's not true that the whole of Tanga city is a conservation area, we have selected just a few parts to curb dynamite and use of banned fishing nets by rogue fishermen," he noted arguing that the tourism industry should rally behind the decision.

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