FISHING is one of the predominant economic activities among Zanzibari’s. Apart from agriculture and tourism, the fisheries sub-sector provides a reliable source of income and food to the majority of families.
Cognizant of the significance of the fisheries sector in modern economy, the revolutionary government of Zanzibar is taking deliberate efforts to promote blue economy on the Isles.
The government’s thrust for fisheries development seeks to generate additional opportunities in the fisheries sub-sector and ancillary industries to help alleviate poverty. Increase fish production, improve nutritional levels and export earnings.
As part of these efforts, the revolutionary government of Zanzibar last year launched a state-of-the art marine multi-species hatchery, the first of its kind on the continent in Urban West region.
Thanks to the USD 3.2m project located at Beit El-Ras College. Various rare species, including milkfish, mangrove crabs and sand fish are hatched in the centre.
The hatchery is the first in Africa and among the world’s top ten, can produce 10,000 fish, 75,000 crabs and 55,000 sea cucumber offspring.
The three-year project is financed by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), providing technical support.
According to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries, Ms Mariam Abdallah Juma, the hatchery will directly benefit ordinary consumers, traders, seed and feed suppliers, as well as the ancillary enterprises built around farms.
The Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture Department at FAO, Dr Emmanuel Barange, who travelled all the way from Rome, Italy to witness the opening of the hatchery noted that profound demand for seafood across the world called for such projects, recalling that many countries around the globe were turning their attentions to blue economies.
“We all know that fisheries provide many benefits, it provides livelihood for many of you…it provides trade and revenues for government and provides food for people around the world, fish is food,” Dr Barange said.
Aquaculture, he said, had been the fastest growing food production industry in the world during the last 15 years, but only 2.5 percent of aquaculture production came from Africa.
“This needs to change,” he argued.
Dr Barange spoke of lack of significant farm development for either crab or sand fish in Zanzibar. Asserting that the strong market demand for both species indicated that there was great potential for farming development of the two species if seeds were made readily available.
Dr Barange said a progressive and expanding aquaculture sector would increase economic activities among Zanzibar communities; increase opportunities for livelihood, employment, and income generation, and the production of more aquaculture products for food and nutritional security.
Tanzania produces 400,000 tons of inland fishes a year, with Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria contributing three quarters of the inland fishes captured per annum, according to Dr Barange.
“That makes Tanzania among the top-ten list of world producers of inland fishes. Aquaculture production for human consumption however, was only four million tons, which is one percent less of aquaculture that is produced in Africa.
This demonstrates the potential for growth and development that the fishing sector has.
Despite boasting a vast array of water bodies, the Indian Ocean, world renowned lakes and rivers, Tanzanians still consume less seafood on average, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted.
“Fish and seafood consumption in Tanzania is estimated to be 7kg per person per year, but this is still 30 percent fewer of average fish consumption in Africa, which is 10kg per year per person,” reveals Dr Barange.
“This shows that not only there is the potential for growth of the aquaculture sector but also there is a profound need for fish. Therefore it is the responsibility of all of us to work towards achieving it,” he suggested.
Zanzibar second vice-president Ambassador Idd, who presided over the launching of the hatchery, which boasts sophisticated technology for the production of fry, said the blue economy was one of the priority sectors in the Isles’ strategic development plans.
“The implementation of this project is very important since it will provide solution to our citizens, especially fish farmers, who have faced shortage of fry for a long period,” he said, insisting that the project was part of the Zanzibar Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (MKUZA III) program.
At least 144 fish keeping groups, registered in Unguja and Pemba Islands, would benefit from the hatchery.
These fish-keepers depend on imported fry whose availability remains unreliable, something that holds back fish farming activities on the Isles,” said Ambassador Idd.
The second vice president urged marine fish farmers to move from subsistence farming to commercial farming, and issued directives to the Ministry for Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries to ensure the fry are easily made available to the farmers.
Ambassador Idd expressed concerns that despite its huge economic potential, the fisheries industry contributes less 10 percent of gross domestic product.
“With the soaring fish demand, there’s every need to improve fish farming as well as the farming of other seafood in order to increase the fish-keepers’ revenues and availability of nutritious food as well as boost national revenues,” urged Ambassador Idd. He recalled that 50 percent of seafood consumed around the world was from sea farming.
“This farming is important for environment protection and for sustainable fishing, as reduces overcrowding of fishers and seaweed farmers in the Ocean,” he insisted.
FAO Country Representative, Mr Fred Kafeero revealed that the hatchery project boasted strong capacity development component involving local hatchery staff and farmers in operating the hatchery and business development.
He said government extension staff would be involved in supporting aquaculture farmers in Zanzibar, adding that applied research in aquaculture would also be an important component of the project.
“Opportunities for research collaboration will be created with this hatchery project,” he said while pledging to work close with the State University of Zanzibar.
“A public-private partnership strategy for the sustainable operation of the marine hatchery is an integral part of this project since its preparation and throughout the project in order to ensure the sustainability of the hatchery after the donor-phase,” he noted.
“It is anticipated that increased aquaculture production will encourage further investment in the sector and provide opportunities for local suppliers of equipment and feeds for aquaculture,” added Dr Barange.
Key to the success of the project is a successful Public Private Partnerships.
Dr Barange said with PPPs, operations for the hatcheries can be developed after the donor funded project phase.
“This will result in long-term employment and supply staffs that can assist build other commercial hatcheries in the future to meet the state and nation’s long-term aquaculture industry development needs,” he asserted.
Dr Barange underscored the importance of both local and foreign direct investments in order to transform the aquaculture industry.
“In order for the Zanzibar aquaculture to contribute to food security, poverty reduction, national economic growth, national and the national balance of trade, it must attract local and foreign investments, to do so it must be competitive both locally and internationally,” he said.
“As you know competitiveness is difficult without the scientific breakthroughs in the production technology and without government determination to establish policy frameworks,” stated Dr Barange.