Govt to tighten noose on blast fishers

THE Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Abdallah Ulega has warned fishermen using dynamites to stop the illegal fishing method for it constitutes major threat to small-scale fisheries through degradation of reefs and other critical habitats for fish.

He said in Dar es Salaam recently that dynamite fishers could be sentenced to five years in prison and a further 12 months for possession of explosives.

“If you are in the business of dynamite fishing and you see it lucrative, kindly, know you are in an illegal activity and we are coming for you,” he said in Dar es Salaam, recently when receiving 50 tonnes of by-catch fish from Albacora Group, a commercial company in the tuna fish industry.

“Already the government has information that blast fishing is clandestinely back in the ocean and if you are in the business, kindly quit.

You have started and we shall wind up, unfortunately painfully for you,” he said after handing over the by-catch to Prolife Africa Limited Company for sale.

That was with the explanation that blast or grenade fishing is a destructive fishing practice of using explosives by dishonest fishermen to stun or kill schools of fish for easy collection.

“This often illegal practice is extremely destructive to the surrounding ecosystem, as the explosion often destroys the underlying habitat (such as coral reefs) that supports the fish.

The frequently improvised nature of the explosives used and undetonated charges means danger for fishermen and divers as well, with accidents and injuries, and hence, it must stop,” Mr Ulega further said that since the government was keen on improving the lives of Tanzanians and encouraging local investments, it directed the company to sell the fish to women fishmongers at affordable prices.

“The species like Bonito, Marlin, Skipjack, Frigate, Dorado Mahimahi and Swordfish were caught in the boundary of Tanzania and therefore, Tanzanians must benefit from them at affordable prices.”

The ceremony was conducted after Prolife Africa Limited won the tender to sell the by-catch on behalf of the government. In the arrangement, Albacora Group Company whose ship is Tanzania registered was licensed to target and catch only tuna fish, but since, they travel with other species like Bonito, Marlin, Skipjack, Frigate, Dorado Mahimahi and Sword, these by-catches must be returned to the government.

Receiving the catch, Prolife Africa Limited Chief Executive Officer, Michael Nachipyangu thanked the government for making sure that most of the companies including theirs are run by the nationals.

He said it was time the government also considered to help them financially to own ships for large commercial fishing.

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