Excitement as Dr Fridtjof Nansen calls at Dar port

GOVERNMENT officers, members of diplomatic community and researchers were at the Dar es Salaam port on Tuesday for a port call event of Dr Fridtjof Nansen research vessel which is undertaking survey on fish resources and the marine ecosystem.

The state-of-the-art fisheries research vessel, named after a Norwegian scientist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Fridtjof Nansen, brought together scientists from around the globe under the UN flag for the research survey that is expected to contribute in efforts to improve sustainable management of coastal and marine resources.

It called at the Dar port on Monday with 15 crew members and 25 scientists from various countries including 13 from Tanzania after completing the first leg of the research survey in East Africa in particular Mozambique and part of Tanzania.

The Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) had invited government officials, members of the diplomatic community, and representatives from the public and private sectors to a special event on the dockside and to embark on a guided tour aboard the vessel.

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness on ocean issues and the work of the EAF-Nansen Programme which helps coastal developing countries to assess and manage their fisheries for a sustainable use of the oceans. The programme is supported by United Nations Food Organisation (FAO) in collaborating with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) of Bergen.

“As a partner country of the EAF-Nansen Programme, Tanzania has derived numerous benefits from various national and regional research surveys conducted by the Dr. Fridtjof Nansen over the years,” stated the Zanzibar Minister for Blue Economy, Suleiman Masoud Makame during the event.

He expressed government gratitude to FAO, NORAD and IMR for their contribution in bolstering scientific knowledge on coastal marine resources which is vital in supporting sustainable fisheries in the country.

“The research, data, and information obtained from these surveys have significantly enhanced our understanding of the ocean ecosystems, enabling us to make well informed decisions regarding the sustainable management of our fisheries.” He said about a quarter of the population in Tanzania relies on coastal resources or inland lakes for their livelihoods.

About 30.8 per cent of Tanzania is covered by water but despite the abundance of the marine resources its contribution to the total economy is paltry 1.8 per cent, he said.

“This imbalance is perplexing,” said the minister noting the research findings would be important as the government is focused to boost development of the fisheries sector.

Fisheries sector, dominated by small scale operations undertaken by artisanal fishers and subsistence aqua farmers, contributes 1.7 per cent of the GDP and provides direct employment 195,435 fishers and 30,064 aqua farmers, according to fisheries sector master plan (2021/22–2036/37).

The government seeks to utilize the capture fisheries and aquaculture potential and opportunities to increase creation of jobs and wealth, food security as well as the contribution of the subsectors to economic development. The focus is growth of the overall fisheries sector and its contribution to the GDP to 10 per cent per annum, according to the document.

The government has earmarked an increase in the overall fisheries production by at least 35 per cent from the current total production which ranged from 375,533 tonnes in 2005 to 473,592 tonnes in 2020.

“We recognize the importance of supporting sustainable fisheries in the country and are committed to working hand in hand with the government, local communities, and other partners to achieve this goal,” stated the FAO Representative in Tanzania, Dr. Nyabenyi Tito Tipo.

“In many countries, the data and information generated by the research vessel are the only reliable assessment data on fishery resources. The data collected during the research surveys are a national heritage, and the results represent a vital tool for the management of the fisheries sector.” The outgoing Norwegian Ambassador to Tanzania, Elisabeth Jacobsen said she was pleased to see scientists from around the globe were brought together under the UN flag aboard the vessel to do research on marine resources.

She said high quality information and data expected to be collected would enable longterm sustainable use of marine resources. Nansen cruise leader, Jens Otto Krakstad said Dr Fridtjof Nansen, with seven modern laboratories equipped with the latest technology, was the only research vessel that flies the UN flag, a sign of neutrality and cooperation among collaborating agencies and member countries of the EAF-Nansen programme.

He said the first Dr Fridtjof Nansen visited Tanzania for the first time in 1982/83 and carried out three surveys. The current vessel came to Tanzania in 2018 for another survey.

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