Opinion: Something's fishy about the Rufiji prawn project

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
13 February 2007, at 12:00am

TANZANIA - It was recently reported that the Tanzania government has approved commercial prawn farming projects in the country.

According to the report, the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) has granted permission to a South Korean firm Alpha Crust to run a major prawn farm in Mafia, south of Dar es Salaam.

The Centre is the government’s premier investment promoter and facilitator, with a good track record.

THERE IS no reason, therefore, to doubt the its executive director Emmanuel ole Naiko, when he made this announcement through a newspaper interview.

According to ole Naiko, the South Korean company has already invested in prawn farming on Mafia Island.

Thailand, he explained, was also planning to undertake prawn farming in Bagamoyo, north of Dar es Salaam.

In 1996, then president, Benjamin Mkapa, gave the green light to one company to start prawn farming on 10,000 hectares in the Rufiji River Delta.

The decision elicited protests in Tanzania and beyond. Rufiji Delta people filed last against being denied access to the area, thus being deprived of earning their livelihoods for the sake of a foreign company.

INTERNATIONAL environmental protection groups were also up in arms against the degradation that large scale prawn farming is associated with.

The Rufiji Delta is by far the largest of its kind in Eastern Africa, and contains the biggest estuarine mangrove forest on the eastern seaboard of the African continent.

It is of considerable conservation and economic significance.

More importantly, the delta region is home to more than 30,000 people who live, farm and fish on its fertile lands. The latter produces over 80 per cent of Tanzania’s prawn exports, with the entire catch being wild (not farmed) prawns.

Source: The East African