WHILE Tanzania’s fishery sector registered a 2.5 per cent growth in 2021, contributing 1.8 per cent to GDP, there is a need for concerted efforts to rescue the industry from the adverse effects of climate change.
According to a study published recently, fisheries in Tanzania and other tropical countries, particularly developing nations, face a greater risk of disruption from climate change than agricultural activities.
Researchers from James Cook University’s Centre for Coral Reef studies surveyed fisheries and agricultural communities in five tropical countries, including Tanzania.
The experts found that by 2100 up to 40 per cent of fishable biomass areas in the ocean could drop, alongside more than half of suitable growing days per year for agricultural industries.
The lead author of the study, Professor Joshua Cinner, said policy planning rarely considered changes to agriculture and fisheries simultaneously.
Tropical regions and those who live there would likely suffer losses as the effects of climate change become more apparent.
“These larger-scale assessments gloss over how households and even entire communities will be affected by climate change,” said Prof Cinner.
A total of 28 researchers investigated the potential impacts of climate change across 72 coastal communities in Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Tanzania.
People from more than 3000 households were surveyed on expected future yields across fishery and agricultural activities.
Researchers found that, while vulnerability may vary in communities across different countries, lower socio-economic regions were particularly exposed to severe impacts and had a higher dependence on natural resources, which means those areas will be hit harder.
“We found that the potential losses are expected to be higher in the fisheries sector than agriculture overall, but the big problem is that two thirds of the communities we studied will experience potential losses to both fisheries and agriculture simultaneously, under a high emissions scenario,” Prof Cinner said.
“It really does show how much the lives of very many ordinary people hinge on decisions they have no control over and highlights the moral responsibilities that decision makers have towards them.”
The study is wake up call to authorities and the general public to take deliberate measures to protect the fishery sector, which provides employment to approximately 4.5 million Tanzanians in the entire value chain where direct employment for fishermen is 194,804 and aquaculture growers are 31,998.
The government recently unveiled grand plans aimed to lift up the industry this financial year, including the construction of a fishing port at Kilwa Masoko in Lindi region.
According to Finance and Planning Minister, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba the government will also procure two fishing vessels in the blue economy zone and Fish Aggregate Devices (FADs) this fiscal year.
Tabling the national budget 2022/2023, Dr Nchemba said further that the government will procure and distribute 250 modern fiber-type boats for fishing cooperatives.
Other government’s plans include the revival of the Tanzania Fisheries Corporation-TAFICO; capacity building to professionals specialised in fisheries; strengthening fisheries education and training Agency (FETA); and strengthening of the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI).
Also, the construction of the Igabiro, Mbamba Bay and Chifunfu fish catchment sites and six fish markets in various strategic areas; construction and rehabilitation of aquaculture facilities; and intensification of monitoring and evaluation activities of the fisheries sector so as to ensure the project is implemented as planned.