Dodoma — THE government said it will soon amend the Fisheries Act of 2003 and its regulations of 2009, with hopes that the new changes would augur in a strong independent inshore commercial fishing in the country.
The existing law faces a wide range of criticism from fishermen and other stakeholders, where Members of Parliament (MPs) had raised concern on legal gaps creeping in at the expense of people who directly depend on fishing activities to survive.
Minister of Livestock and Fisheries Development, Mr Luhaga Mpina announced in the National Assembly here yesterday that the government will complete reviewing 'the process' next month, where some amendments will be proposed to the legislators for additional inputs before becoming law of the land.
"The new legislation and regulations will set proper arrangement for commercial fishing. In the meantime, the ministry will continue taking action over all people involved in the illegal fishing activities as per the current law," he pointed out.
But Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai says the government should consider opinions from the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water as well as those from academic institutions, such as universities and the industrial key players-the fishermen to address the situation.
Geita Rural MP, Mr Joseph Kasheku (CCM) had raised concern that fish like human beings, varies from one species to another, saying: "One may appear to be small and under 25 cm, but is old as those above 25 cm recommended for commercial fishing.
Many fishermen have been affected by this arrangement and therefore, I want the government to clarify its commitment on helping the fishermen," he stated.
Initially the lawmaker had wanted to know whether the government had banned all forms of fishing activities in Lake Victoria, basing on the magnitude of its crackdown on illegal fishermen there.
In the rejoinder, Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Abdallah Ulega, told the Parliamentarians that the government had not frozen fishing activities there, but was simply abiding by legal frameworks to curb illegal fishing in the lake.
On his side, Constantine Kanyasu, Geita Urban (MP-CCM) raised concern that the Fisheries Act section 58 (2) (1b) only identifies sources of tilapia as for Lake Victoria, despite a number of campaigns to promote aquaculture that guarantees other species of tilapia.
Ukerewe MP Mr Joseph Mkundi (Chadema), however, became worried that the government was not doing enough to control quality of fishing nets and instead creates problems to the majority local fishermen.
In responding, Mr Ulega said the ministry was considering engaging the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment to develop standards that will be used to examine the quality of fishing nets, saying:
"All manufacturing industries will be subjected to meet the qualities and should they fail, the ministry will work on other solutions to address the problem."