HUNTING of dolphins has become a problem and conservation activists want authorities to put a stop to the malpractice which has become rampant in Dar es Salaam and Tanga regions.
Sibylle Riedmiller who is Secretary of the Tanga Tourism Network Association (TATONA) is quoted to have written in a correspondence that "We received reports of dolphins being hunted in Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park off Kigombe."
Ms Riedmiller pointed out that although dolphins are protected by law, guests visiting the Marine Park, the first of its kind in the country, witness fishermen catching dolphins and some destined for fish markets in Dar es Salaam.
"While it is certainly distressing for guests to witness this, we were not sure whether dolphins are actually protected," she noted. Riedmiller pointed out that among local fishermen, ignorance is widespread on protection of dolphins by law, hence, the need for sensitisation.
"Awareness is definitely lacking, it may be a good idea to write about dolphins, their importance for the marine ecosystem and their immense value for the tourism industry and their protection status at least in Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar," the TATONA Secretary noted.
World Wildlife Fund for Nature advisor, Jason Rubens, said dolphins have been protected by Tanzanian Fisheries Regulations since 2009.
Mr Rubens wrote in a message to Reidmiller that WWF has included dolphins as one of the species to be protected when the Fisheries (Amendment) Regulations, 2009 were made.
"The list of 38 species I put together in the regulations includes spinner dolphin, grey dolphin, spotted dolphin and bottle nosed dolphins.
It's very likely the species mentioned at Kigombe would be one of those as these cover the species known commonly to occur in Tanzania near-shore waters," Rubens noted.
He said dolphins are now being actively targeted by dynamite fishermen in Dar es Salaam because their flesh makes a very good bait for sharks, the ultimate driver being the shark fin trade.
Modest Kiwia who is a Warden-in-charge at Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park, is urging stakeholders to report such incidents to authorities whenever they observe them.