|Tamimi Fisheries Company|
Tamimi Ally, the advisor to Tamimi Fisheries Company revealed the discontent at the just-ended 17th East Africa International Trade Fair exhibition held in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.
“We are well aware of the richness of the Indian Ocean and that is why we are interested in doing business with Tanzania,” said the Yemenis trade advisor.
He went on to state that his company is disappointed at the low amount of fish exploitation and related marine resources which he said is not enough for a processing plant, such as the one his company is looking to establish in the country.
“Our expectations were disappointed as the local fishing in Dar es Salaam is too weak to supply the plant and meet world market demand,” Ally said.
That being the case, he advised that the government create a better fisheries sector by having the local fishermen organise themselves into small groups or associations and establish colleges to train them.
The advisor elaborated that once they have formed associations then the small scale fishermen become legible for loans and it is then possible to establish a modernised fishing scheme that would pave the way for the country to compete in the world market.
Seconding his advisor’s displeasure and surprise with the low investment going into Tanzania, the Marketing Manager of Tamimi Fisheries Company, Awadh Al-Tamimi
said: “It is very sad that even the ministry concerned does not know or have the actual figures for importation and exportation of fish which gave us the impression that the government is not serious in the sector.”
Al-Tamimi said his colleagues visited to the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development offices where they inquired as to the importation and exportation statistical figures on the fisheries sector.
“It becomes very hard for us and other potential investors interested in conducting business with Tanzania to assure ourselves of profit,” he explained.
Describing the unfortunate scenario, Al-Tamimi pointed out that Dar es Salaam, for example, has a bustling catering and hospitality industry with many prominent international hotels represented yet the city, like other regions depends on fish imports.
He said the amount harvested does not meet demand and the little that is harvested falls short of proper value addition due to a lack of processing plants and a very weak chain value addition apart from domestic consumption.
“Many Dar es Salaam residents, the majority being women, depend on fish sales to meet their financial as well as nutritional needs and therefore, if the government were to improve the sector, the people would all benefit greatly,” Al-Tamimi advised.
On an optimistic note, that does however contradict the observations and reports by Al-Tamimi and his colleague, a day before the EAITE ended, Theresia Mganga, the director of administration in the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development revealed that at least 7trn/- is saved annually from restricted fish product imports.
She was speaking during the second graduation ceremony of the Mbegani Fisheries Development Centre in Bagamoyo District, Coast Region where she conferred diploma certificates to 188 graduates who completed two-year Masters Degree courses.
The institute covers Marine Engineering, Aquaculture, Fish Processing, Nautical Science and Boat Building. Also Environment and Coastal Resource Management, Master Fisherman and Quality Assurance and Marketing.
Mganga’s comment agrees with the foreign observers that Tanzania has ‘enough fish reserves’ but they sharply contradict when she suggests that these vast resources ‘satisfy the local market demand’ and also that because the local supply meets demand then ‘fish and fish related imports are low’.
The Tanzania national website reports that apart from the Indian Ocean, Tanzania’s fresh waters include the riparian shared waters of East African great lakes Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa and also small natural lakes, man-made lakes, river systems and many wetlands cover 58,000 square kilometres and all have high fish potential.
The site admits that, the country has a coastline of about 800 km declared as its Exclusion Economic Zone but has not yet exploited it and the present annual fish catch is only about 350,000 metric tonnes.
The number of fishermen who are permanently employed is 80,000 and few others obtain their livelihood indirectly from fishery related activities.
These artisanal fishermen produce about 90 percent of the total fish catch in the country meaning that only 10 percent is derived from industrial fishing.
Most of the fish caught is consumed locally while Nile perch with exception of sardines and prawns that are mostly for exports contributing to GDP a measly 1.6 to 3.1 percent annually.