TANZANIA looks forward to fully exploit deep sea fishing and the country stands to earn billions of shillings from the blue economy, thanks to Tanzania Fishing Company’s (TAFICO) revival.
Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Abdallah Ulega told the National Assembly on Thursday that TAFICO was currently operational.
“I can assure you that TAFICO has been fully revamped and is now determined to ensure that marine fisheries sector is maximally developed, especially by exploiting deep sea fishing from the Indian Ocean,” he told the august house while winding up his ministry’s budget estimates for the 2019/2020 fiscal year.
Mr Ulega said at the moment, the ministry through TAFICO was looking for 4bn/- to procure a new large fishing vessel that will operate in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
He further said TAFICO is currently preparing a business plan and will sign a deal with a Japanese firm to construct the new fishing harbour in the country.
He also said the government will continue carrying out surveillances and fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated deep sea fishing, noting that Deep Sea Fishing Authority (DSFA) has established the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) as part of its Monitoring Control and Surveillance (MCS) capacity building.
The Deputy Minister was reacting to concerns raised by several Members of Parliament (MPs) who expressed their reservations over the government’s resolve to fully take advantage of its 1,424-kilometre coastline and its territorial waters to exploit deep sea fishing.
“This country might be losing billions of money from tuna catches by foreign vessels in her Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” said Tunza Malapo (Special Seats—Chadema), insisting that there are a lot of untapped potential in deep fishing sector in the country’s coastline.
Monduli MP Julius Kalanga (CCM) said the ministry has not invested enough in the livestock and fisheries sector and that is why its revenue largely depends on fines imposed on seized livestock grazing in protected areas, illegal fishing and levies.
Dr Saada Mkuya Salum (Welezo—CCM) expressed concern over the 0.4 per cent levy by the DSFA on foreign fishing vessels operating on the Tanzania deep sea, saying the move was depriving the country huge revenue.
Her concerns was shared by Salum Rehani (Uzini— CCM) who said since the levy was introduced, Tanzania missed at least 54 vessels, which could have contributed between 20bn/- and 30bn/- to the government coffers.
He said the vessels have since crossed over to Comorro where 31 of them were recently registered.
The MP also said that Tanzania has not exploited to its full capacity, the 360 miles of deep sea, vehemently disputing data by the ministry showing that Lake Victoria has 2,210,000 tonnes of fish compared to 100,000 tonnes available in the Tanzania’s Indian Ocean territorial waters.
Another MP, Mbaraka Dau (Mafia—CCM) advised the government to abolish the 0.4 per cent per kilogramme levy on foreign vessels operating in Tanzania’s sea waters, describing the amount as exorbitant and was scaring away large scale fishing vessels that could only be properly monitored to contribute significant amount of money to the government coffers.
Chambani MP (CUF) Yusuf Salim Hussein said the government needs to strengthen surveillance and fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessels.
The MPs also raised concerns over lack of special harbour for fisheries in the country. In another development, Mr Ulega said the Magogoni Fish Market in Dar es Salaam will soon undergo major refurbishment, with 1.5bn/- allocated for the project.
He also said Kirumba Fish Market in Mwanza is making huge progress in terms of revenue collection, with 600m/- collected monthly compared to only 30m/- that was collected three years ago.