THE Indian Ocean coastal states, which include Tanzania, have been irked by the scale of illegal fishing in their region. The region can no longer tolerate the continual illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.
The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), is in a two-day workshop since yesterday at which incisive joint strategies to stem the rot will be mooted. The strategies will aim at the most sustainable management and development of fisheries resources
It is imperative to mention here that, on the home front, Tanzanian reforms in marine services are required so that the country can earn more revenue from deep sea fishing. National benefit, so far, from deep sea fishing is minor and insignificant.
Indeed, Tanzania has a wide sea territory that teems with fish. The nation has potential for vast fish populations that, quite often, attract foreign companies. Many foreign fishing ships come to fish in our territorial ocean waters because of the available fish.
They mainly hunt for the celebrated tuna. They also capitalize quite befittingly on our weak regulations in licensing. Yes, they pay 50,000 US dollars to fish tuna. But we do not have capacity to monitor the whole fish catch, do we?
So, Tanzania Deep Sea Fishing Authority (DSA) should review its licensing regulations alongside possible revival of Tanzania Fishing Company (Tafico). More fishing companies should be instituted to widen the scale of collecting fishing resources.
Tanzania has been losing a lot in deep sea fishing just because of not 'thinking out of the box' much to the advantage of foreign companies. This includes questionable use of Tanzanian flags by foreign ships.
And many local seamen are denied jobs in the ships. At the moment the government is encouraging a widely practiced fish farming initiative with the upshot being sealing the current deficit which stands at 400,000 tonnes a year.
It has been determined that offshore fishing is not productive enough. Although the nation consumes 700,000 tonnes of fish annually, irresponsible fishing, that has also caused environmental degradation, has reduced the amount of fish catches, not only in the Indian Ocean, but also in Lake Victoria and elsewhere.
It is this shortfall of 400,000 tonnes of fish which prompts the nation to import about 200,000 tonnes from China annually.
Nevertheless, while urging small-scale fish farmers to help out in sealing the gap and creating jobs, the State needs to look elsewhere. The state intends to table in the National Assembly a Bill that would suggest amendments to the current Fishing Act.
The upshot, it is hoped, would be a clear-cut declaration that dynamite fishing and all other forms of illegal fishing are an economic sabotage.