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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Tuna fishing mismanagement denies Tanzania USD5bn annually

The fisheries sector plays an important role in the national economy of  Tanzania. The sector contributes to about 1.4 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The sector employs a considerable number of people directly and indirectly, working as fishers, traders, processors, suppliers and merchants of fishing accessories and employees and their dependants.

In 2010, an average of 1,021.6 Metric tones (Mt) was landed from the Tanzania Exclusive economic Zone (EEZ); while some 7,834.8 Mt was landed from the Mainland Tanzania artisanal fishery.

Speaking during the just ended 3rd National dialogue on sustainable tuna fisheries management in Tanzania in Bagamoyo, Coast Region, Fisheries Programme Officer with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Edward Kimakwa said that the potential of marine fisheries resources in Tanzania is least exploited.

“Tanzania Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) lies within the richest tuna belt of the South West Indian ocean (SWIO).” He said there was limited data on how much of this stock is exploited by distant water fishing nations (DWFN) due to weak monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS).

Tuna therefore presents the richest single-species fishery potential in the country. The challenge to Tanzania is how to take advantage of the opportunities of the globalised world fisheries and trade and bring about significant flow of benefits to their national economies and improve the living standards of the local communities who depend on the coastal and marine fisheries for proper management and exploitation of the resources to reap maximum benefits for Tanzania at biologically, ecologically and socio-economically sustainable levels.

According to WWF data tuna’s global production has steadily increased over the past 50 years, from less than 0.6 million tones in 1950 to over 6 million tones in 2004-generating an income of around US dollars 5 billion. This catch represented over 7 per cent of total marine capture fisheries reproduction 2002.

Western Indian Ocean region is important for tuna and supports one of the largest industrial fisheries which accounts for 70 to 80 per cent of the Indian Ocean catch and 20 per cent of the global production, worth some US dollars 2-3 billion annually, is caught in the Eastern African region.

The increasing demand of fish especially from the developing world of the West, China and Japan whose domestic resources have dwindled from poor management presents a challenge as well as an opportunity of the WIO range states, including Tanzania in their efforts to exploit and manage tuna stocks in a sustainable manner.

He further said that “Illegal fishing and unmonitored activities in the ocean has not only denied African states good revenues but also caused massive destruction of the ecosystem, complicating efforts on sustainable marine conservation.

“Through serious engagement with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) with its headquarters in Mauritius, member states can make a difference,” noted Kimakwa.

The member states include Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Comoros, Seychelles and Mauritius. However, among these countries some have made tremendous progress and currently realising huge gains from the sector.