ARUSHA, Tanzania, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) — Tanzania has seized and destroyed illegal fishing gears worth 900,000 U.S. dollars that were being used in Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake by area, a senior official said on Sunday.
Tanzania’s Livestock and Fisheries Minister, Luhaga Mpina said that authorities have also collected 54,000 dollars in fines from fishermen and traders caught with illegal fishing tools and those transporting fish and its products outside the country illegally.
This comes hardly a week after minister Mpina ordered an intensive audit of revenue collected in the international fish markets located in the Lake Zone following reports of tax avoidance that deny the government billions of Tanzanian shillings in levies and taxes.
During his tour in Lake Victoria’s small islands of Galinzila and Kakukuru in Ukerewe District, Mwanza Region, the minister said that the government’s war against illegal fishing had no intention of hurting law-abiding businesspeople, but targeted those who break the law and squander natural resources for their own interest.
He also unveiled a joint team of experts and security organs tasked with stamping out illegal fishing activities in Lake Victoria zone especially in big cities and towns of Mwanza, Bukoba and Musoma and scores of islands located in the world’s second largest freshwater lake by surface area, after Lake Superior in North America.
“The team is expected to work tirelessly to ensure that illegal fishing becomes a thing of the past in the Lake Zone. I am confident that if this and other teams with the same mandate in the country embark on regular patrols in the ocean, dams, rivers and lakes; success is certain,” he said.
He added: “I am also aware that there are some people who are inciting fishermen to strike after the government has started taking measures to fight illegal fishing, let me warn you to stop and let the government do its work.”
Mpina noted that according to the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute report of 2017, 96.6 percent of fish in Lake Victoria are still immature.