THE Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries has directed for immediate release of all fishermen held in various places countrywide for failing to renew their fishing and vessels' licences.
Announcing the directive yesterday, Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Abdallah Ulega extended the licence renewal to January 31 from January 1, this year.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Ulega also directed the ministry and council fisheries officers to follow fishermen at their places of work and avail them with the licences instead of waiting for them to go to their respective offices.
He gave the directives following a number of complaints that resulted in fish shortage, especially at Ferry Fish Market in Dar es Salaam after some fishermen were barred from fishing for failing to renew their fishing licences as well as of their vessels.
However, he was quick to note that the fishermen must be guided by the code of conduct of the fishing industry, including avoiding taking part in any illegal fishing activities. "Fisheries officers must allow them to fish as the government has extended the licence renewal time for 2019," said Mr Ulega.
He noted that they had decided to take such a move taking into account that licences were usually renewed every January, thus it was an ideal time to give them a grace period until the end of the month before taking legal action.
The deputy minister said they were aware that some fishermen, who had been charged and others were barred for failing to have a licence that warranted them to operate and engage in fishing business.
Therefore, Mr Ulega directed the release of all, who were being held at police stations and drop charges to those, who had been brought to court as they were supposed to purchase 2019 business licences by January 31, this year.
He gave a polite reminder to all business operators in the fishing industry to be guided by the rules and regulations governing fishing activities to get away with unnecessary commotion that hindered the development of the fishing industry.
Mr Ulega used the platform to express the government commitment to the war on illegal fishing launched in January, last year, saying the campaign was a nonstop for the growth of the fishing industry. He called for fishermen to avoid using explosives, when fishing as well as stop using chemicals, which affected breeding grounds as well as putting at great risk rare fish species.
Mr Ulega also warned the fishermen of illegal importation of prawns, lobsters, crabs and octopus. Meanwhile, before the deputy minister's directives, a small catch of fish was reported at the famous Magogoni Fish International Market.
The price of fish went up abruptly since most of the fishermen did not go for fishing since they had not renewed their licences. Vice chairman of Dar es Salaam Small-Scale Fishers' Association (Uwawada), Saleh Msaeni told the 'Daily News' that people in uniforms were deployed at the market for patrol and some fishermen were finned.