BY AISIA RWEYEMAMU
The fishing industry contributed Sh1.2 trillion ($800 million) to the country‚Äôs Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during 2011, statistics released by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development indicate.
During that period, local fishermen fished a total of 341,065.98 metric tons of fish, from about 177,527 licensed fishermen with half of them fishing in Lake Victoria, the world‚Äôs second largest fresh water lake.
In 2011, Tanzania exported 37,723.3 metric tons of fish worth $176,797.8 (Tsh230 billion), where the government earned royalties amounting to Tsh5.866 billion.
But the industry is also facing severe challenges including over-fishing, illegal fishing methods, an ecological disaster and above all stiff competition from cheaply farmed tilapia-like fish known as Basa, produced in China and Vietnam.
The industry is challenged by depletion and degradation of marine and coastal impact of climate change as well as non-integration of regional and national efforts, a donors sensitization conference was told on Friday.
Dr. Yohana Budeba, the deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Development said at the conference that other challenges include inadequate knowledge on fish stocks, inadequate data to enable proper planning and management of fish resources.
The sector is also plagued by inadequate funds to facilitate fisheries management and inadequate expertise in various fields of the sector, which has impacts that are serious for the economic health of the country, while piracy had impacted negatively on the country‚Äôs exclusive economic zone, affecting tuna fishing in particular.
The eastern and southern Africa maritime states including Comoro and Seychelles have been seriously affected by Somali piracy, reducing the income to these countries due to decline in issuance of licenses of fishing vessels, while Tanzania has not been spared.
‚ÄúWe in the region in collaboration with development partners and interested stakeholders need to encourage and facilitate re- orientation of our governance process to meet challenges through innovative ways and supporting a science based governance mechanism,‚Äù he said.
The donors conference aimed at reviewing achievements of a five years project funded by the World Bank and supervised by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Project results impressed conference participants.
The project has helped the region to identify the size of marine resources and its how it can be managed for the benefit of the country.
Project results will help the donors to build good management units and making up a productive strategic plan for the industry, the ministerial official noted.