JUST a few days ago, fish stake-holders held a two- day national consultative workshop to deliberate on various issues to improve efficiency of the fishery sector in the country.
During official closing the representative of the Director of fisheries department Mr Charles Byarugaba reiterated the need for the artisanal fishers to play a major role in strengthening the national development. He insisted the international guideline for securing sustainable small scale fisheries that is very important in facilitating the guideline to fetch advantage for small scale fisheries and in promoting national economy.
Concerning challenges he described it was zero craft guideline as stake-holders views are very important this will be included in the draft of international guideline for securing sustainable for small scale fisheries. Mr Byarugaba hailed environmental management and economic development Organization (EMEDO) to organize stake-holders national consultative workshop which will add value to improve views and opinion to Food and Agriculture Organization, who need this guideline.
He appealed to the workshop participants to offer their views and opinion to help develop small scale fisheries for the respect of fishers' welfare and their development. Mr Charles said that he was frightened by the deliberations. He added that he was very much optimistic with the discussion and believed that vision would be granted to know the result why small scale fisheries would like to be supported.
The Environmental Management and economic development Organization (EMEDO)'s Executive Director Editrudith Lukanga says the consultative Workshop, led by Civil society organizations like EMEDO, other civil societies involved fish resources managements Beach Management Units, world food programme, Uganda and Fisheries experts. She said that for the first time in consultations, Tanzania and Kenya were not invited for the consultation workshop.
Only experts were present. She added that the objective of the consultation workshop was to develop a consensus amongst Civil Societies stakeholders in artisanal fisheries like NGOs and fish workers Organizations on a common vision and political position and on the key issues to be taken into consideration.
Lukanga noted that the development of guideline on securing sustainable small scale fisheries is of critical importance, given the significance of small scale fisheries globally and given the plethora of problems they face. Small scales fisheries (SSF) in Tanzania are present both in the marine and fresh water bodies like lakes, rivers and dams. Chiefly, SSF is carried along the shoreline and has no defined market for their products.
For instance, they sell their fish to anybody even when they are still in the fishing areas. Yasin Ally, a participant, said that SSF has a limited accessibility to financial resources, market information, opportunities to improve their lives. Their boats are generally paddled driven or powered by engines of 2 - 40 horse power. The Mwanza retired Regional Fisheries Officer Angelus Mahatane, displayed his worry that SSF incomes do not enable them to save for development and many of them do own their fishing equipments.
"They lack knowledge on group dynamics and policy requirements, and also have low capital investment, which does not grow," he concluded. Some of stakeholders had opinion that there should be an introduction to small scale aquaculture that would facilitate fisheries to go for it as an alternative after some of resources decline due to over-fishing and other related environmental harms.
Tanzania is estimated to have about 4 million people engaged directly in fishing and fishery related activities such as fish processing, marketing, distribution, net making, marine engine repair, boat building and production of other accessories. Experts in fisheries department say there are over 3,000 ha suitable farming or shrimp farming a long Tanzania coastline with a big production potential annually (Black tiger and white shrimp) and fresh water shrimp in some water bodies.
They say that there are opportunities for small scale Aquaculture in Tanzania like seaweed farming, which was introduced in 1970s. the activity began to gain popularity by 1989 when it was taken over by private investors in Zanzibar and spread a long coastal regions in the country.
According to these experts, currently sea weeding farming is mostly practiced by women. Significant socio-economic benefits at community levels and in 2008 Tanzania exported about 5,000 metric tonnes of dry unprocessed seaweed.
In viewing this importance, the government established a policy and legal framework, national fisheries policy and strategies statements in 1997, aiming to transform fisheries and aquaculture sector into sustainable commercial fishing, aquaculture and processing for domestic and foreign market while conserving environment.
The objective was to develop robust, competitive and efficient fisheries that contribute to food security, national economic growth and improved livelihood, and to give chance to mud-crabs farming - crablets from the wild for fattening for domestic and export in marine. The challenges to this aquaculture are limited sustainability, which calls for crablet hatcheries establishment.