Tanzania orders ban on illegal fishing in Lake Victoria

DAR ES SALAAM. – Tanzanian Vice-President Samia Suluhu on Wednesday ordered the country’s northern Mwanza region authorities to strengthen security patrols against illegal fishing in Lake Victoria, the largest in Africa.“Illegal fishing has hugely contributed to depletion of fish in the lake,” said Suluhu on the second day of her one-week official visit to the east African nation’s Lake Zone regions.

The Vice-President said in a statement issued by her office that people found using illegal fishing gear should be prosecuted in courts of law.

“If they continue using illegal fishing gear, including poison, all fish will be depleted within no time,” Suluhu said when addressing public rallies in Misungwi district.

She said illegal fishing, especially of Nile perch, was not only depleting the lake of fish, but it was also destroying breeding grounds for the fish and denying fish processing plants of raw materials.

A 2012 study by SmartFish said the decline of Nile perch stocks suggest that fisheries departments in all the three countries of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda sharing Lake Victoria were allowing illegal unreported and unregulated fishing to continue thriving unabated.

The study found that the total biomass of Nile perch decreased from 1.4 million tonnes (92 per cent of total biomass in Lake Victoria) in 1999 to its lowest recorded estimate of 298, 394 tonnes in 2008 (14.9 per cent of total biomass ).

As of 2010, the Nile perch biomass was estimated at 18 percent of total biomass in Lake Victoria. In addition, the study noted a marked increase in the number of illegal gear being deployed to target under-size fish. The number of fishing vessels, for instance, increased by 37 percent between 2000 and 2008 while the use of fishing motor boats increased by approximately 50 percent. - Xinhua

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