Dodoma — LAKE Victoria has highly been affected by illegal fishing and fish population has decreased to an alarming rate, the Minister for Livestock Development and Fisheries, Dr Titus Kamani told the National Assembly.
The minister added that fish processing factories in the Lake Zone have been forced to reduce production shifts due to low catch.
He was responding to a question by Mr Highness Kiwia (Ilemela-Chadema) who wanted to know why the government was harassing fishermen in his constituency.
The legislator pointed out that fishermen were being arrested and their fishing nets were burnt after being specified by fisheries' militia as substandard.
Later on, Mr Kangi Lugola (Mwibara-CCM) noted that the situation was the same in his constituency which is also located in the lake zone.
He expressed surprise as to why the ministry does not find it necessary to set up shops that will sell the specified gears and also see the need to invite factories manufacturing them.
"I long to see the day that the ministry will also burn instantly the factories that manufacture these substandard fishing gears and the shops that sells them," he said.
Mr Lugola said he was ready to provide clues to responsible officials that would lead to the arrest of producers and suppliers.
The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai asked the minister to respond to the query by the MP.
Dr Kamani asked the MPs to bear with and support the government in the move, saying that the situation was alarming as fish were almost disappearing from the lake. He noted that the fishing nets been burned were very small to the extent that fishermen were fishing small fish, eggs and fish food.
"I was in Mwanza recently and I found out that the situation has forced factories there to reduce processing shifts and the survey in the lake shows that the population of fish has extremely declined," he said.
He noted that in the coming fiscal year, the government will put special emphasis on fish projects, adding that a budget has been put aside for that purpose.
"We want to promote fish keeping to reduce over dependence on the lake and we have put aside funds in the coming fiscal year for that purpose," he said.
Dr Kamani promised to work closely with MPs who will help the government find out the source of such substandard fishing gears.