AT least 600 suspects have been held for illegal fishing, thanks to strengthened monitoring control and surveillance measures under South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth (SWIOFish) Project.
According to a project report released in Dar es Salaam by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries at the weekend, the suspects were arrested following four major land and sea operations mounted along the coastline.
Regions involved in the operations, according to the report presented to editors, are Dar es Salaam, Coast, Lindi and Mtwara.
At least 73 cases related to illegal possession of explosives, spears and gas cylinders were also reported.
Under the SWIOFish Project, the report adds: “At least 28 fisheries staff were trained in investigation and field operations on bomb fishing…supported awareness-raising workshops for 72 judiciaries and prosecutors on the impact of blast fishing were conducted.”
Other achievements registered under SWIOFish, which is jointly implemented by Tanzania, Comoro and Mozambique, are re-establishment of 50 Beach Management Unit (BMU) groups in five pilot districts namely - Tanga Urban, Pangani, Bagamoyo, Mkinga and Lindi Rural.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Rashid Tamatama, told editors that illegal fishing had been controlled by 100 per cent, adding that the involvement of people under BMU groups contributed to such milestone achievements.
“Before SWIOFish Project, only 25 per cent of fishing equipment was registered…until June, this year, the figure doubled to 58 per cent. This is an outcome of an awareness programme,” Dr Tamatama said.
SWIOFish is a six-year (June 2015- September 2021) project. The World Bank finances the regional programme which is implemented in Tanzania, Comoro and Mozambique.
Specifically in Tanzania, the programme which is jointly implemented by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries (Zanzibar) and the Deep Sea Fishing Authority (DSFA) focuses on six priority fish species.
The programme report names priority fisheries as tuna and tuna-like species, prawns, reef fishes, small and medium pelagic species and octopus.
After being sworn in as Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation recently, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, underlined his ministry's priorities of which the blue economy was among his strategic areas.
He said the Ministry would ensure the country's economy brought about desired socioeconomic changes, touching on employment generation, uplifting the business environment and guaranteed the supply of raw materials for local industries.
To ensure this dream comes true, Prof Kabudi said the government would work with various stakeholders, including Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC).