Maputo — Cyclone Idai, which struck central Mozambique on 14 March, has caused major damage to the region's fisheries, according to Carlos Sendela, the Sofala provincial director of fisheries, cited in Friday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias".
A count of losses along the Sofala coast shows that the cyclone destroyed or damaged at least 2,037 fishing boats. These were mostly artisanal boats, but some industrial and semi-industrial vessels were also affected.
Sendela said that 2,067 artisanal fishermen were directly affected, suffering losses of over a billion meticais (about 15.7 million US dollars).
A preliminary estimate of total losses for the sector in Sofala is much higher, at 333.5 billion meticais. This includes damage to a variety of buildings, including warehouses, workshops and fisheries processing facilities.
The Beira fishing port, which was rehabilitated only last year, suffered losses put at eight million meticais, and the five fish markets in Beira were damaged including their cold storage and ice-making equipment.
Two units producing fingerlings and feed for aquaculture were destroyed. 53 aquaculture tanks were damaged, causing losses to 104 fish farmers. 14 fisheries extensionists in Sofala have lost their homes, making it very difficult for them to carry out their professional duties.
"The losses are very great", said Sendela, "and so right now a ministerial mission is on the ground, including consultants from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), making an exhaustive survey".
He warned of a shortage of fisheries produce in Sofala this year. The cyclone damage would make it very difficult for the 23 industrial and 14 semi-industrial fishing companies based in Beira to meet their production target of 73,000 tonnes.
This will have an impact on Mozambique's fisheries exports, notably of prawns to Europe (particularly, Spain, France and Portugal), and of tuna to the US and various Asian and African markets.
The closed season for fisheries ended on 1 April, but many fishermen and fishing companies are unable to put out to sea because of the damage to their equipment.