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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
SADC initiative on high seas welcome
Apart from a few kilometres of continental shelf, much of the countrys exclusive economic zone (EEZ), stretching 20km or so, is largely unprotected and open to abuse by illegal fishermen.
We need to do more than just shout about illegal fishing; we need to put our act together and mount regular patrols to protect this heritage. All manner of illegal fishing vessels find it easy to come to our waters because there is practically nobody guarding them to ensure sustainable harvest of our fisheries.
The Minister for Livestock Development and Fisheries, Mr John Pombe Magufuli, has a very unenviable task in his hands; his brief includes protecting a sea at the mercy of pirates when everyone is asleep, or worse, those under him who are charged with protecting the sea arent as equipped as the pirates.
It is therefore instructive that none other than the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is stepping up efforts to fight against illegal fishing operations. The region is facing truly serious problems of poaching when stocks of highly migratory species are on the far edge of the sea, further complicating surveillance efforts.
Our own newly formed Deep Sea Authority (DSA) formed to regulate and control fishing activities in the countrys EEZ will need a lot of support from all concerned in order to carry out its work, particularly so because the pirates are highly organized and, at times, better armed than government patrols.
In fact, the so-called illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) acts are on the increase simply because we cannot put out the required staff and equipment equal to the task at hand. But this is no excuse; there must be new resolve to act. As the minister points out, measures to be taken against IUU fishing activities must be enhanced through port inspections and information systems.
Quite often, most IUU fishing vessels are known; why they arent black-listed is anybodys guess. Its time we acted on these pirates before they wreak more havoc on our fisheries. We may come short as individual countries, but we are a formidable force at regional level. The SADC initiative must be backed with action.
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