EU experts to inspect Lake Tanganyika fishing activities

RUKWA: A TEAM of experts from the European Union (EU) are expected to inspect fishing activities on Lake Tanganyika mid this year.

The aim is to ensure that fishermen and fishery stakeholders meet the required standards set by EU.

Chief Fisheries Officer from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Mr Ambakisye Simtoe (fisheries section) told the ‘Daily News’ over phone interview recently that initially, the EU team of inspectors was expected to carry out inspection in March this year but it extended the exercise to June this year.

He further said the EU team of inspectors carried out the first inspection on the lake in 2011.

“The inspection of fishing activities on Lake Tanganyika by EU team of experts aims to provide a long, stable, secure and healthy food supply,” he emphasised.

With the inspection, EU wants to satisfy itself that fishing activities on Lake Tanganyika have met the required fishing standards set by the EU.

The EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) aims to ensure that fisheries and aquaculture are ecologically, economically and socially sustainable.

It is also concerned with maintaining employment and sector’s economic viability. Lake Tanganyika second largest fresh water body in Africa, contains 17 per cent of the world’s available surface freshwater.

“Our country is among of the countries exporting fish products to competitive European markets. So, the EU has a method of carrying out regular inspection on countries which are exporting fishery or marine products to European markets,” further explained.

Moreover, the EU fish inspection on Lake Tanganyika has coincided with the government decision to suspend fishing activities in Lake Tanganyika for three consecutive months to boost the population of fish.

The suspension will last three months from May 15, this year.

Deputy Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Mr Alexander Mnyeti made the announcement in January this year at different occasions during his working tour in Kigoma, Katavi and Rukwa regions, where he raised awareness of the importance of suspending fishing activities in Lake Tanganyika.

“The fundamental reason is that the fish stocks in the water body have been dwindling for decades due to poor handling and fishing methods including process techniques as well as impacts of climate changes which are threatening the future of fishing on the lake,” he said.

According to the Global Nature Fund a combination of overfishing, pollution and climate change was taking a toll on the fish population.

In the Burundian part of the lake, production fell by a quarter – from 20,000 to 15,000 tonnes between 1995 and 2011.

While in Tanzania the production fell by 18 per cent – from 104,178.81 to 85,180.10 tonnes from 2020 and 2023. As per survey conducted by Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI) in 2022 Lake Tanganyika on part of Tanzania has 144,690 tonnes of population of ‘migebuka’, sprat sardines and perch.

However, the population has declined by 8 per cent compared to 1995 which was 157,493 tonnes.

Mr Mnyeti said the suspension was a collective decision by Tanzania and its neighbours Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia.

He further said that the suspension is in conformity with the regional character awareness campaign meant to promote sustainable fisheries management in the lake.

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