Tanzania grants foreign deep-sea vessels fishing licenses in push to unlock full potential of marine resources

TANZANIA – Four foreign deep-sea vessels have been granted licenses costing US$70,000 each to use the Tanzanian flag to practice deep-sea fishing in the Indian Ocean.

According to the Director of Research, Training and Extension Department in the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Prof Mohammed Sheikh, the licenses may be renewable each year depending on the performance.

“The initiative looks to increase fish catch, improving the average of fish uptake for Tanzanians, to meet international standards, promote blue economy, create jobs and transfer marine skills to local populations,” he said.

Sheikh was speaking during the handover of 100 tonnes of fish bycatch by Pacific Star, a Spanish-based fishing company that is operating using the Tanzanian flag and has a subsidiary office in Zanzibar.

“The licenses also require that such companies sell locally part of their fishing including their bycatch which is set to minimize the gap of fish intake in the country and promote trade,” said the professor.

He also communicated that Pacific Star was granted the license as it was ready to sell 300 tonnes of its catch, mainly tuna fish, in the local markets where local traders may access them and trade them to Tanzanians and export some as well.

The country of Tanzania primarily sources its fish from Lake Victoria, the world’s second-largest freshwater lake.

According to The East African magazine, Tanzania, with a per capita consumption of fish estimated at 8.5kg per year, produces about 336,821 tonnes of fish per year, against a demand of 731,000 tonnes.

Currently, the country bridges the gap with imports. In 2019, the country imported about 24,000 tonnes of fish per month worth TZS56 billion ($25 million), mostly from China, Vietnam and other states around the Indian Ocean.

“The incoming of licensed fishing vessels would increase the number of fish, narrow such a gap and hence, promote economic development and food security,” noted Professor Sheikh.

Mr Imanol Loinaz, the Fleet Director of Albacora Company which owns Pacific Star Vessels, said that his company was mentoring local seamen for skills transfer for the future plans of setting up a fish processing factory in Tanzania.

“We have visited some areas in Zanzibar, Kilwa, Tanga and Dar es salaam region where we are analyzing suitable areas for possibly establishing a processing factory in the near future,” he said.

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