Illegal fishing must end in TZ

DAR ES SALAAM: THE Government has day in day out sent a message to fishermen, who may be involved in blast fishing to immediately stop the business, or else face the law.

You give it any name blast fishing, fish bombing, dynamite fishing or grenade fishing, but take note that this is a destructive fishing practice of using explosives to stun or kill schools of fish for easy collection that must stop.

This school of thought is that blast or dynamite fishing, is one of the most destructive forms of fishing that indiscriminately kills any animal in the blast area-from fish eggs and plankton to whales and dolphins and devastates corals.

As citizens, we must support the government to fight such dishonest fishermen, because not only do the bombs kill all marine life around them, repeated bombings shatter the dead sub-structure of the coral and create dead zones that destroy biodiversity and ecosystems by removing the main life support system for many species.

We must condemn it because the practice is illegal worldwide and if left unchecked, we will not only lose the ability to produce wild fish stock but it will dramatically affect even the tourism industry, our economy also depends on.

Actually, who will be interested in going to the beach if there are explosions and the coral systematically destroyed by the very citizens who are supposed to protect them? We must all know that failure to address fish bombing ultimately exacerbates poverty, and turns an environmental problem into a security risk, because food supplies will dwindle.

With experts explaining that tossed overboard, one bottle bomb can kill everything within 30 to 100 feet of the blast, such blasts must be fought by all citizens, because once they are given room to resurface, people will lose limbs and even die, meaning we shall all lose as Tanzanians.

If memory jogs you well, you will remember the government’s Multi-Agency Task Team formed to deal with wildlife crimessuch as blast fishing, whose focus was to target individuals and networks that control this illegal trade, bring them to justice and seize any assets obtained through their crimes.

This taskforce won’t succeed in its business, if it’s not given cooperation it deserves right from the grassroots, because the very fishermen who engage in blast fishing are also the same people we live with in the society and we know them.

We must not allow excuses like lure of easy money, corruption among some officials and vast and difficult to patrol coastlines to be a loophole for the business to resurface, instead every person to play a role in fighting it.

If illegal fishing is allowed to continue, it should be noted that women (read families fed by them), particularly, who are the main processers and traders of fish at markets will suffer at the reduction of fish catch.

It should be condemned, because illegal fishers often disregard multiple rules at once, including those that prohibit destructive methods.

This is because fishers practice blast fishing-detonating explosives to stun fish and damage their swim bladderswhich often kills all marine life in the blast’s radius, cause immense damage to the marine ecosystem.

In some places, fishers use cyanide powder to stun-but not kill, but in reality cyanide can also bleach or kill coral reefs.

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