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Tanzania & S-Africa Join Forces Against IUU Fishing

Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers responsible for marine fisheries met in the Namibian capital Windhoek on July 4, 2008, where they declared among other things to strengthen fisheries governance and legal frameworks to eliminate illegal, unregulated and under reported fishing in the sub regional states of the Indian Ocean.

According to the Tanzania Minister for Livestock Development and Fisheries John Magufuli, despite the high potential in fisheries resources in the marine waters of Tanzania, the country has benefited little from the sub sector because of illegalities.

The illegalities are mainly due to illegal unregulated and unreported fishing practiced by unscrupulous distant fishing vessels in the Exclusive Economic Zone in Tanzania (EEZ).

Some of the vessels owners have registered their vessels under flag of convenience in order to conceal their fishing history, in addition other vessels have proper nationalities but operate in a very irresponsible manner partly because their fishing operations are highly subsidized by their governments.

At the same time both models of fishing are illegal, unregulated and unreported practices.

Experts argue that poor control mechanisms in licensing, monitoring and setting of fishing quotas are said to be among major factors contributing to a crippling loss of over $220m (approx. 286bn/-) per year that the country suffers from illegal foreign fishing trawler operations.

It has been established that Tanzania lose billions of shillings through fish smuggling by foreign fishing vessels at the EEZ due to absence of local observers on-board to monitor fishing activities of the vessels.

The Coordinator of the Environment for Development Tanzania (EfDT) Dr Razack Lokina has affirmed that other countries in the sub region such as Mauritius, South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia have local observers on board the fishing vessels to monitor their activities contrary to Tanzania which has none to date.

Dr Lokina who is a Lecturer of Economics at the University of Dar es Salaam has noted that vessels are required by law to report their daily catch to the Fisheries Department but since there are no Tanzanian observers on board, so far the reporting is done voluntarily and data reported underestimate actual catch, as some vessels breach license conditions by fishing in restricted areas, such as marine protected areas.

’’Statistics from Fisheries Department show that over 171 registered vessels in 2004 none docked at our ports. Hence no onshore monitoring can be enforced, neither has observers on board,’’ the don said.

Dr Lokina substantiated that absence of the on board observers deny the government not only the right to know how much of its resources are exploited, but also the revenue that could be earned through vessels expenditure in port, companies spending, and also by employment to Tanzanians.

The expert has explained that there are several means of monitoring at sea fishing activity (e.g. on board observer, patrol vessels and air surveillance). Onshore inspections of vessels and landings offer an alternative to at-sea monitoring of fishing activity. At sea and onshore monitoring are, to some extent, substitutable models of enforcement.

Onshore monitoring is generally less costly than at sea monitoring. Studies elsewhere show that expenditure for a single observer-day provides monitoring of a single at-sea vessels-day whereas that same expenditure dockside would provide for inspection of several vessels each of which has been at sea for many days.

He stated that although less costly, onshore monitoring is widely viewed as being incapable of detecting certain classes of violators. By way of illustration, onshore monitoring can be very effective in detecting size or by catch infractions, but is perceived as being incapable of detecting violations such as discarding or fishing in closures.

’’This would suggest that a combination of both onshore and inshore monitoring could be the best option, this offshore monitoring though said to be relatively cheap, Tanzanian is yet to enforce it, to be able to enforce will require that all registered vessels dock at our port,’’ he said

However, Dr Lokina said Tanzania faces a challenge of developing a fishing port that will have freezing facilities to prevent the fishers catches from decomposition.

To be able to fish in the Tanzania EEZ one of the requirement is to pay for the licence which is issued by Fisheries Division. Vessels fishing the EEZ include Asian long liners and European purse seiners.

Target species are principally large pelagic fishes, although in 2004 licenses were granted to deep sea crustacean stern trawlers. It is the requirement by the law that a vessel is given a fishing license and is registered before the onset of the fishing activities in the Tanzanian EEZ and territorial waters.

In 1998 seven licensed vessels participated in the Tanzanian EEZ water and none was registered in Zanzibar. In Zanzibar there were 11 vessels registered in 1999. The 2003 was a record year for Zanzibar EEZ fisheries as it reached a level of 104 vessels.

Unlike in the prawns fishery, the ownership of EEZ vessels in both mainland and Zanzibar are whole foreign. Since licenses were introduced in 1998 the numbers of foreign vessels fishing tuna and tuna like pelagic has risen rapidly.

In 2004 the total number of registered vessels was 171 of which 41 were tuna seiners and 123 longliners. The mainland issued 85 licenses and Zanzibar 86 (mainly to longliners from the Far East).

According to a study conducted by Dr Lokina the actual value of the fish caught from Tanzania are based on the price offered at the Sashimi market in Japan. It is estimated at around 1.9m basing on 2004 data equivalent to approximately 17% of the total Tanzania marine export value.

It is believed that up to 10,000 tons of tuna are caught in Tanzania EEZ per week In this fishery, besides license and registrations, fishers are also required to comply with closed areas regulation, catch reporting and having observer on board.

Mr Magufuli has declared that the government of Tanzania has been employing various means and strategies to build its capacity in curbing these malpractices but without much success.

Some of a few such efforts and strategies include the government joining hands with other SADC member countries in signing the Protocol on Fisheries in 2002 which has very clear objects and provisions related to sustainable and responsible fisheries.

’’We are tired of illegal fishing done by these nations they have been stealing our marine resources for the past 50 years that is why fisheries sector contribute only 1.6 percent in the GDP,’’ said Magufuli.

Speaking during launch of joint patrol operation involving South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania in Dar es Salaam last week on board patrol vessel Sarah Baartman from South Africa the minister said he would be glad if at least 20 illegal fishing vessels are apprehended and dealt with according to the international and national laws.

He urged the patrol team to use all sorts of tactics required to ensure that none of the illegal vessels escape during the days of operation in EEZs,

The minister has emphasized that it is necessary to remember that they are dealing with highly organized crime conducted by intelligent, capable and rich people who are not only in the midst of international community but also our partner in many avenues.

The minister commended joint efforts by SADC region to combat illegal fishing in the Indian Ocean.

Going by his statement experience has shown that the illegal fishing problem can not be dealt with satisfactorily by one coastal or island state alone, nor can it be dealt with by a few neighboring countries calling for national, regional and Africa Union strategy to strengthen the fisheries governance and legal framework to eliminate illegal fishing.

The minister was inspired by the venture undertaken by South African government in collaboration with Mozambique and Kenya by demonstrating that it is possible for the states to cooperate in carrying out surveillance in their EEZ, indicating that they are aware of illegal fishing problem and are seriously addressing the challenge.

Tanzania and several other countries in the SADC are stepping up the fight against illegal fishing operations. Tanzania has formed the Deep Sea Authority (DSA), a corporate body with the power to regulate and control fishing activities in the country’s EEZ

The scale of illegal fishing across Africa is very serious and heavily decimates fish stocks across the continent, he said.

Experts say illegal fishing has a negative impact on the economy as it translates into loss of revenue for the legitimate fishermen and associated industries such as the ports, fish processors and fish handlers.