19 December 2012

Tanzania: Police Nab 28 Illegal Fishermen in Rukwa

Photo: Tommy Trenchard/IRIN
Woman walks past fish laid out (file photo): Illegal fishing rampant in Tanzania waters.

MARINE Police Unit has arrested 28 illegal fishermen from neighbouring Zambia for entering and fishing at Kasanga village along the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Kalambo District, Rukwa Region.

The suspects were arrested on Sunday around 5:00 am at Kasanga village in two canoes and had already made catch of 520 kg of different species of fish. Authorities have also impounded the canoes and other fishing gears that were found with the suspects, according to witnesses from the scene.

An official with the unit, Mr Bakari Luela, told this paper that all the 28 fishermen are being interrogated at Kasanga Police Post while waiting to be transported to Matai and Sumbawanga Police Stations in the region for further interrogations.

Mr Luela observed that all the suspects will be charged in court once investigations are completed. According to sources from villages in the area, there is a huge presence of fishermen from neighbouring Zambia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who enter the country's waters illegally.

Suspicions abound that some of the aliens are secretly harboured by villagers in Kalambo and Nkasi districts in Rukwa Region as well as in Mpanda District in Katavi Region. It is alleged that the aliens later appear in public as Tanzanian nationals and carry out fishing activities without legal permits.

The sources further claim that the catch by the illegal fishermen who are harboured by locals is normally sold in neighbouring countries where it gets higher price. There are also reports that a section of leaders in Rukwa Region tend to exert their influence and pressurise authorities to free the fishermen once they are caught.

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