TANZANIA is b estowed with significant fisheries resources from the aq uatic resource b ase. The total inland water surface area covers ab out 62,000 sq uare kilometres which is 6.5 per cent of the total land area which is distrib uted as follows; Lake V ictoria 35,088 sq uare kilometres; Lake Tanganyika 13,489 sq uare kilometres; Lake Nyasa 5,760 square kilometres; Lake Rukwa 3,000 sq uare kilometres; Lake Eyasi 1,000 sq uare kilometres, and small water b odies (small lakes, rivers, and dams) 1,000 sq uare kilometres.
On the marine side, the country has a Territorial sea area of ab out 64 ,000 sq uare kilometres and a coastline of 1,424 kilometres from the northern b order with Kenya to the southern b order with Mozambique.
The Exc lusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is up to 200 nautical miles covering an area of 223,000 sq uare kilometres providing the country with additional marine area and potential fisheries resources.
However, despite sub stantial fish and fishery resources, the production is well b elow demands as Tanzania produces ab out 365,974 metric tonnes in 2014 figures, according to national fisheries policy of 2015.
This is against a demand of 731, 000 tonnes annually as stated b y the Deputy Minister for Fisheries Development, Abdallah Ulega while on an official tour of Bagamoyo and Kib aha districts last year.
In 2014 the sector employed 183,800 full time fishermen and ab out 4. 0 million people earned their livelihoods from the fisheries sector related activities.
However the main challenges to fishermen which partly exp lain low production, have b een poor fishing gear, inadeq uate technical exp ertise and management skills, insufficient financial resources and lack of the tools to manage and control development processes.
It is against that b ackdrop, the government plans to review the Fisheries Act and regulations governing the sector to pave the way for a total b an on fish imports and protect local fisheries.
According to the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Luhaga Mpina, regulations will b e put in place to safeguard local fisheries and empower them with proper training to increase their output.
Under the review the government is now encouraging fishermen to form fishing co-operative societies and is set to sub sidise 40 per cent of the total costs of the purchase of modern fishing facilities, including b oats.
The government is also planning to b ring in companies to b uy large fishing ships, and estab lish fishing ports along the Indian Ocean coast.
We think it is time now we prioritise recommendations under the National Fisheries Policy of 2015 which outlines measures to meet micro and macroeconomic changes, challenges facing the fisheries sector and rationally utilising immense fisheries resources sustainably while optimising the availab le opportunities and benefits.