Mwanza — The production of fish products has declined from 500 tonnes to 150 tonnes per day after the government restricted exports of the products.
The new figures were revealed yesterday during a dialogue meeting that brought together the private sector in the Lake Zone. The dialogue was organised by the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF).
Speaking during the event organized to commemorate the Foundation's 20th anniversary, Tanzania Fishermen Association (TFA) spokesman Sijaona James attributed the decline to the government's seizure of fishing gear and subjecting fishermen to excessive huge penalties.
"The decline has led to the closure of six out of 12 fish processing facilities in the Lake Zone regions," he said.
According to him, Tanzania fishing stakeholders are allowed to export only fish meat as compared to other countries sharing the Lake Victoria that are allowed to export other products too.
He was supported by the chairman of Nyamikoma Fish Auction Centre, Mr George James, who suggested that the issue was an obstacle that had forced fishermen to live in slavery and life hardship.
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"Sometimes police raid auction centres on claims that people were violating the directive. Fine has also been increased to Sh3 million from Sh300,000 for someone found to have committed one offence," he said. He attributed the issue to bankruptcy of most fishermen, urging the government to find a solution to the matter.
"While the country has banned exports of other fish products, Kenya and Uganda have scaled up production through the use of fishing nets with 72 hole size as compared to Tanzania that uses 26 hole size" said Mr James.
For his part, the TPSF executive director, Mr Godfrey Simbeye said the matter was unhealthy for the country's economy.
"The government should use the third eye to look on the issue bearing in mind that Tanzania owns the Lake Victoria by 51 per cent," he said.