Biteko: Make fishing industry tick for wellbeing of economy

Dar es Salaam. Stakeholders involved in the fish industry should come up with strategies aimed at increasing productivity and hence income.

The call was made in Dar es Salaam by the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Doto Biteko, when he addressed stakeholders from the continent’s fisheries sector in their meeting in Dar es Salaam.

Over 400 people are participating in the African Small-Scale Fisheries Summit 2024.

Dr Biteko, who also doubles as Energy Minister, said currently the country produces 472,597 tonnes of fish annually from its soft and hard water bodies. Of the total, 429,128 tons are from the soft water bodies such as lakes and rivers.

This amount generates about Sh3.4 trillion, amount which can be increased if strategies are set in motion to improve the sector.

Data show that fisheries sector in the country has been growing at the rate of 1.9 percent creating 230,000 direct jobs. The entire value chain creates six million employment opportunities.

This is the first continental summit that targets at paving a way for generation of new opportunities in the fishing sector value chain that can directly impact small scale fishermen.

Dr. Bitreko implored financial institutions to look at artisanal fishers as one of major areas which needs improvement as they have potential to contribute immensely to the national economy.

“If loans are availed to this group we might end up creating a formidable workforce which will add value to our economy,” he insisted.

The summit brought stakeholders in the fisheries sector from public and private sectors to set a common way forward on policy and legal framework for enabling African small-scale fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

According to Dr Biteko improving fisheries sector cannot be left on the hands of one player therefore the need for public and private sectors to work together.

He also implored African governments to guide the private sector in the fisheries value chain to empower small-scale fishers.

Use of clean and smart technologies in fishing operations should be availed to the small scale fishers as an agent for improvement and adaptation measure towards fighting climate change implications.

He said that if small-scale fishermen are empowered with green technologies the threat of climate change effects arising from this group which forms over 90 percent of the continents fishers shall play a vital role in mitigating threats.

“Small-scale fishers dominate 95 percent of Tanzania’s fishing sector. They are the engine of the sector. Domestic and regional strategies should be put in place to enable them operate in an environmentally friendly approach,” said Dr. Biteko.

On his part, the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Abdallah Ulega, said that the idea of hosting the summit was agreed during last year’s International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) held in Rome, Italy.

He said the agreement was in recognition by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Tanzania’s contribution to uplifting small scale fisheries.

The Minister said more than 4,000 people in the fisheries value chain in over 120 countries across the globe have described how they would want to make livelihoods along the small-scale fisheries value chain sustainable for people and the planet.

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