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Euro Crisis Hurts Tanzanias Fish Sector

TANZANIA - The Eurozone crisis and its ripple effects have put Lake Victorias multimillion-dollar Nile Perch fishing industry under renewed pressure, after a lull of four years.

Nile Perch, a major foreign exchange earner in the three riparian countries Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania had started to recover from the 2008 global financial crunch, which almost brought the $1.3 billion industry to its knees.

Expectations were high that fishermen would make increased earnings this year, particularly after the fish stock in Lake Victoria soared by 123 per cent, potentially pushing up revenues from $650 million to $1.3 billion.

The latest hydro acoustic survey done in October 2011 to determine fish stock biomass show fish stocks had increased to 1,944,089 tonnes, up from 1,583,367 tonnes recorded in August the same year.

But these hopes have turned into nightmares, as the ripples from the Eurozone crisis reach Lake Victorias shores, outliers of an economic storm about to hit thousands of Nile Perch fishermen.

Fishermen in Tanzanias Lake Victoria zone comprising the Mwanza, Mara and Kagera regions are already counting their losses. The local price of Nile Perch has plunged .

The vice chairman of the Fisheries Union Organisation, Benjamin Mashimba, told The EastAfrican that local processors have slashed the price of Nile Perch from Tsh5,000 ($3.164) to Tsh 2,700 ($1.7) per kg, prompting fishermen to boycott supplying fish indefinitely.

Mr Mashimba said that the Nile Perch price cut was unilaterally effected by fish processors from 12 June 2012.

According to Mr Mashimba, the majority of fishermen feel that the local processors are taking advantage of Eurozone crisis to exploit them.

The fish processors are deceiving us; common sense doesnt agree that the price of fillets can drop by 50 per cent overnight, said Mr Mashimba, adding that members of his organisation are not going to supply fish until they raise the price and compensate those who have incurred losses during the boycott period.

However, an official of the Tanzania Industrial Fishing and Processors Association, Alfred Charoman, told The EastAfrican that demand for Nile Perch fillets in European countries had dropped sharply due to the euro crisis.

Mr Charoman said the price of a kilogramme of Nile Perch fillet in Europe had dropped from $5 to $3, but a Tanzanian PhD candidate studying in Germany told The EastAfrican that the price of a kilogramme of Nile Perch there is $11.57.

End consumers in Europe buy a kilo of Nile Perch fillet at between $13 and $15, the student said on condition of anonymity. Meanwhile, poultry and pork are as cheap as $3.8 a kilo, leading many families to switch as economic hardship bites.

the Fish Site Editor

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