IT has come to light that the government has ordered the immediate arrest of two nationals who are suspected to be linked to the issuance of forged licences to foreign fishing companies denying the state billions of shillings in uncollected taxes.
A Parliamentary select committee has accused the two Tanzanians of economic sabotage. The committee alleges in its report that unauthorised licences were issued for deep sea fishing in Tanzanian territorial waters.
It points out that irregularities in the fishing sector industry have caused the nation a loss tipping 5.985tril/- in the past nine years. The principal suspect has been mentioned as Mr Ahmedi Ali Shaban, a former official with the Deep Sea Fishing Authority.
The other one is a Dubai-based shipping agent, Mr Boniface Chando. While we do not wish to prejudice the course of investigation and eventual justice, it is imperative to mention here that economic sabotage is a crime that is punishable by law. Indeed, Tanzania has been irked by the scale of illegal fishing in its ocean territory.
The nation can no longer tolerate the continual illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities. In fact, reforms in marine services are required so that the country earns more revenue from deep sea fishing.
As the Parliamentary committee has determined, national benefit from deep sea fishing is, so far, minor and insignificant. Indeed, Tanzania has a wide sea territory that teems with fish.
The nation has potential for vast fish populations that, quite often, attract foreign companies. Many foreign fishing ships come to fish in our territorial ocean waters because of the available fish.
They mainly hunt for the celebrated tuna. They also capitalise quite befittingly on our weak regulations in licencing. Yes, they pay 50,000 US dollars to fish tuna.
But we do not have capacity to monitor the whole fish catch, do we? So, Tanzania Deep Sea Fishing Authority should review its licencing regulations alongside possible revival of ‘Tanzania Fishing Company (Tafico)’. More fishing companies should be instituted to widen the scale of collecting fishing resources.
Tanzania has been losing a lot in deep sea fishing just because of not ‘thinking out of the box’ much to the advantage of foreign companies. This includes questionable use of Tanzanian flags by foreign ships. And many local seamen are denied jobs in the ships.
At the moment the government is encouraging a widely practiced fish farming initiative with the upshot being sealing the current deficit which stands at 400,000 tonnes a year.
It has been determined that offshore fishing is not productive enough.