Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development Benedict ole Nangoro has urged universities and research institutions to fully invest in fish value chain analysis in order to support small scale fishermen if they are to compete in the international market.
“Research is critical in this field…without research fishermen cannot expect to move forward…” said deputy.
The minister made the call here on Tuesday when opening the 16th Biennial Conference on Fisheries Economics and Trade organised by the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).
The three-day conference attracted some 300 participants from around the globe and was themed, Visible Possibilities, the Economics of Sustainable Fisheries Aquaculture and Seafood Trade.
Sources indicate that about 177,527 licensed fishermen in the country produced a total of 341,065.98 metric tonnes of fish catch worth 1,198bn/- in the last year. During the same period, the country exported a total of 37,723.3 tonnes of fish worth USD176,797.8m (equivalent to 230.01bn/-) out of which the government earned 5.866bn/- in revenue.
According to the deputy minister the government is committed to support and redevelop fisheries by initiating programmes that respond to existing challenges. Contributions from the sector on economic growth for individuals and the country as a whole, has been increasing each year but unfortunately, explained the deputy minister, the small scale fish traders have been left behind.
Nangoro listed major factors behind the ministry’s failure to fully tap into fisheries potential as, underdeveloped fishing facilities, inadequate financial resources, lack of relevant technological skills and piracy.
The minister, as a result of the said limitations, believes that about 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of fisheries potentials in the Indian Ocean remain to be fully utilised.
Off the country’s coastline, which runs about 800 kms, is a chunk of the ocean referred to as the EEZ. It generally stretches from the seaward edge of the state's territorial sea out to 200 nautical miles.
This piece of the Indian Ocean is the UN declared zone, under the (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.
Chairman of the steering committee for the 16th biennial conference and the Deputy Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam, Prof Yunus Mgaya told the participants that a number of strategies, including research, aimed at improving productivity of the sector, are well underway.
Fisheries contribute to the individual, household and the national food security. It creates employment, raises national income and increases foreign exchange explained the chairman.
The Tanzania national website reports that the country has some 64,000 sq km of marine water and boast’s some 58,000 sq km of mostly fresh water basins of which include the African major lakes, Victoria, second largest in the world, Tanganyika, the world's longest and second deepest freshwater lake and Lake Nyasa, the 3rd largest in Africa (8th in the World).