Source: allAfrica 

Leaders of 150 women groups engaging in the fish sector have vowed to practice legal methods in catching products to reverse the trend of fish deficit which is causing economic challenges to millions of people who depend on it for their daily livelihood.

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) announced the year 2022 to be International year of Artisanal Fishing and Aquaculture (IAFA) so as to encourage the small sector in fishing to grow and expand volume of their contribution.

According to research done by Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries in 2020, ccurrently fish production is around 422,859.78 metric tons a year, with around 95 percent of fish sourced from small-scale fisheries and the remaining 5 percent from large-scale commercial fishing, therefore putting more efforts to lift the sector.

The sector employs more than 4.5 million Tanzanians who engage in earning their livelihood from fish and related fish products.

Small scale fishing is conducted by a big number of fishermen in the world, including Tanzania, which means it is a self-employed job and provides direct food, nutrition security and other multiplier effect to the community.

Decision made by FAO to raise the sector involves discussion to mobilize the group of small fishers and women who account for 90 percent so that they can be aware of their involvement in the sector.

Therefore, on that perspective women who have a big role in the fishing sector in Tanzania have formed a platform known as Tanzania Women Fish Workers Association (TAWFA) to strengthen their foundation from district, regional, zone and national level to coordinate their activities.

Recently in Mwanza City, leaders of 150 groups of women from 15 districts with more than 3000 members met to discuss ways of empowering small women groups to perform their business in an enabling environment.

They said there is continued decrease of fish products in Lake Victoria due to several reasons, including use of illegal fishing nets and overfishing practice.

Women who are processors of fish are a channel between fishers and consumers therefore the project helps them to strengthen working capability in the sector after post-harvest to have quality nutrition which is the foundation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Chief Fishing Officer from the Ministry of Livestock and Fishing Mr Tumaini Chambua said that after realization that now there is shortage of fish stock, the government initiated a fishing master plan to address the challenge.

"The government wants all groups in the society to be engaged in the sector, and I urge you women to join in groups so as to safeguard fish resources which are threatened by the use of illegal nets, overfishing and other bad practices" said Mr Chambua.

He said that participation of different people in all activities involving fishing would bring positive results in the sector. That is why the presence of the initiative to involve women to brainstorm on how to practice sustainable fishing in Lake Victoria has a variety of benefits.

Director of Environment Management and Economic Development (EMEDO) in Mwanza City, Ms Editrudith Lukanga said that the network of women through their leaders of TAWFA adheres to the voluntary international guideline to support the small scale fisheries sector.

She said that half of the people engaging in fishing and processing fish products are women who are still in bondage of poverty, therefore the presence of proper mechanisms to help them attain development by considering sustainability of catching products would have positive impact in the society.

Ms Lukanga said that there is contribution of small scale fishing in getting proper food nutrients and in reduction of poverty in the society, therefore having discussions will manage to impart education to the sector and hence overcome poverty.

Mwanza City Mayor, Mr Sima Constantine praised the initiative of meeting to brainstorm some challenges that

emerged so that the group of women will manage to bring revolution to the fishing sector in Tanzania.

He said that the government appreciates the steps taken to empower groups of women in the society because when you educate women in the society you have created a positive move to the whole community.

Now the trumpet has been blown for International Artisanal Fishing and Aquaculture to stand up so that their contribution can grow, be seen, be heard and realized since for a long time their contribution was not recognized properly by development stakeholders.

The project is intended to support the visibility, recognition and enhancement of the already important role of small scale fisheries to contribute to global and national efforts towards the eradication of hunger and poverty in the society.

Mr Emmanuel Bulayi, Director of the Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, recently held discussions on how best to make the sector become stronger since it has a big number of players and contributes to the economy.

He said some challenges will be listed and get solution for improvement while also the groups will get technical support and financial assistance to enable them perform their business properly while focus is on sustainable development of fish.

Mr Bulayi added that the nation is blessed for having a big percentage of Lake Victoria with 51 percent, Indian Ocean, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Nyasa and several rivers which makes the area to have big resources of fish products, therefore having proper planning is the best solution for sustainable fishing.

Challenges facing the fish industry are unfavorable environmental and socio-economic conditions, unavailability of fish feed, illegal fishing, declining fish stocks, limited financial resources, poor fishing facilities, lack of relevant technological skills and manpower.

Stakeholders during the event said that community should abandon fishing practices which causes harm to generation of fish like using of harmful poison, small nets and catfish traps.

On his side, Assistant Representative of FAO Tanzania, Mr Charles Tulayi said that in support of this initiative they have injected 195 million dollars in Tanzania to facilitate the programme.

He said that FAO is interested to see the small fisheries sector manages to be stable and dynamic because it employs many individual Tanzanians.

"Financial and technical support will be extended to groups of small fishermen in Tanzania because the sector has many people, therefore by supporting them the fishing sector will grow" said Mr Tulayi.

He said since small fishing contributes more on output of fish product, improving the sector can help the country to attain development, increase nutrition and employment opportunities.


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