The paradox of Tanzania’s fishing industry

Despite the country earning Sh1.2 trillion in 2011 from the fishing industry from 177,527 licensed fishermen, yet the sector’s contribution to the national economy remains minimal.

In the same year, the country exported fish and fisheries products worth 230.01bn/-, (US$176,797.8 million).  However, the government earned Sh5.866 billion in revenue.

The export seems to  drop from the average fish and fishery product exports from Tanzania during five years from 2005 to 2010 which was US$195.17 million.
 

Briefing journalists after the launch of the 16th bi-annual conference on economics of sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and seafood business, the deputy minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development, Mr Benedict Ole Nangoro, said the 5. 87bn/- revenue was according to official records.

Mr Nangoro said the fishing industry in the country is yet to contribute adequately to the national economy, given that its annual contribution is 1.5 per cent of the GDP.

We can earn more from fishing if we transform the sector through employment of modern technology,” said Mr Nangoro

During the past five years, the fishing sector has been contributing between 1.6 and 3.1 per cent to the economy, which is too low given that the country has high fishing  potential.

Despite having marine water cover of 64,000 square km including the Indian Ocean and the exclusive economic zone which covers 223,000 square km, the EEZ is yet to be fully exploited.“Poor fishing facilities, limited financial resources, lack of relevant technological skills prevent the country from benefiting from fishing,” said Mr Nangoro

He was optimistic that the county will soon boost the performance of the fishing industry, citing the National Aquaculture Development Strategy (NADS) that aims at making the country practice fish farming for economic advantages.The government is to enhance commercial fish farming in order to benefit nearly 4 million people in Tanzania who engage in fishing related activities.

University of Dar es Salaam Prof Yunus Mgaya, who chaired the steering committee of the event, described it as of great importance to the country as it brought together various fishing stakeholders, experts and institutions from Africa.

“We need to find solutions to problems facing fishing industry. We need to do more research, involve policy makers, experts and the government has to offer its support for the sustainable development,” said Prof Mgaya.

Asked why fishing industry is yet to transform fishermen in the country, the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute director general, Dr Benjamin Ngatunga, said the country still treats fishing not for economic advantage.

“We need to re-define our mindset towards fishing , treat it as natural resources that needs scientific advice for sustainable development,” said Dr Ngatunga

He noted that there is more pressure on fish markets in the country and abroad, leading to over fishing without introducing new species to perpetuate breeding.Dr Ngatunga said to overcome the pressure, there should be relevant policies and laws, research, relevant technology to Tanzania and intensive investment in the area to meet the growing demands.

He warned that prohibiting fishing in some water bodies as the way to perpetuate reproduction of fish does not provide the solution, but only research that focuses on introducing new species.

“Israel decided to do the research which took 10 years and resulted in a fish called ‘gift’ sangara in Kiswahili which weighs two to three kilogrammes after attaining a year, “said Dr Ngatunga.
Source: The Citizen,http://www.thecitizen.co.tz, reported by Felix Lazaro
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