TANZANIA – RwandAir, the flag carrier airline of Rwanda has secured a deal with Tanzania that will see the airline transport fish cargo from Mwanza airport to Brussels, Belgium.

“Today we inaugurated our cargo flight from Mwanza to Brussels which will be transporting fish to Europe,” the airline said in a tweet.

Yvonne Makolo, the carrier’s chief executive officer confirmed that they “have been in talks for a while” and that the arrangement will enable the airline to finally help Tanzania take their cargo to European markets, reports NewTimesRwanda.

“Since we are flying to Europe, we are combining cargo from here (Rwanda) and Mwanza,” she said.

The deal is expected to provide relief for Lake Zone fish traders, who have, for a long time, been seeking an alternative airline to transport their products abroad.

Wholesale fish traders have been relying on Entebbe and Nairobi airports, which they say are costly.

RwandAir has been operating cargo flights, a model it adopted after countries imposed travel bans due to the coronavirus pandemic, which saw many airlines across the world ground their planes.

The national carrier currently operates cargo flights to Brussels, London and Guangzhou in China.

According to the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development in Tanzania, at least 392,933 tonnes of fish worth over Tz1.85trn were fished between July 2019 and March 2020, further cutting imports of fish to 8.18 tonnes worth Tz 161m.

The boost in production is attributed to the stern measures to control illegal fishing undertaken by the government.

Illegal fishing activities in the Lake Zone have seriously affected the sector with the level of Nile perch reaching 3%, at the brink of extinction.

Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development Luhaga Mpina has revealed that illegal fishing had decreased by 80 per cent in freshwaters and 100 per cent in the Indian Ocean across the country.

The minister said the government’s plans to revive the Tanzania Fisheries Corporation, TAFICO, was in progress and it is planning to buy long-liner, purse-seiner and territorial waters fishing vessels in the 2020/21.

“The plan also includes building a fish processing plant, an ice-making plant and a cold storage facility. The ministry has also put in place plans for an aquaculture project that includes cage fish farming in the Lake Victoria and Indian Ocean,” he said.

Other activities will include establishment of pond fish farming, fish hatchery and a fish feed plant.

The government is also working with an Italian firm, M/S Sering Ingegneria, to finalise a feasibility study for establishing special fishing ports in Mbegani-Bagamoyo, Kilwa Masoko and Lindi.