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Pirates Threaten Deep Sea Fishing in Tanzania

TANZANIA - Tanzania will suffer a loss of more than $4 million (about 6.4bn/-) this financial year, after 50 foreign fishing firms terminated their contracts with the Deep Sea Authority (DSA) for fear of pirates.

"Pirate attacks are adversely affecting fishing activities in our deep sea," the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development, Dr Mathayo David Mathayo, told the DailyNews on Monday evening.

Dr Mathayo said in the past Tanzania used to attract more than 72 fishing companies in the deep sea, but of late only 22 companies have been bold enough to continue with fishing activities.

Dr Mathayo said during this financial year the country will earn only $2 million (about 3.5bn/-) instead of over $6 million (over 8.5bn/-). He said the situation was likely to deteriorate further if pirates are not curbed.

He was speaking shortly after bidding farewell to the Marine Parks and Reserves Board in event that took place at Mbudya Island Marine Reserve on the north of the city. The minister said the new board was set to face a lot of challenges including illegal fishing and destruction of coastal areas and marine reserves.

He said plans were underway to review the Marine Parks and Reserves Act which created the Marine Parks and Reserves Authority to enable the authority have mandate to regulate lakes and rivers as well. "Illegal fishing in the sea, lakes and rivers is rampant. It is important to broaden powers of the authority to deal with culprits in the lakes and rivers," he said.

The minister challenged the new board to think of new strategies that would generate more revenues to sustain the authority.

Dr Mathayo noted that the fishing sector was still contributing immensely to the economy through exports, but expressed concern over Lake Victoria where illegal fishing was 'killing' the lake.

He said Nile Perch stocks in the Lake were dwindling and urged stakeholders to look for ways of redressing the situation. The Minister revealed that between July to December last year, a total 3,288 patrols were conducted in Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria, Lake Nyasa and the Indian Ocean as well as Mtera and Nyumba ya Mungu Dams to curb illegal fishing activities.

The out-going Board Vice-Chairman Mr Stephen Mariki said the Tanzania Marine Parks and Reserves faced serious budget constraints making it difficult to execute its functions effectively.

Lucy Towers

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