Blast fishing now a threat to national security in Tanzania


(Posted 05th July 2016)

In the end it does not matter if it was an accident caused by these criminal fishermen using explosives to fish or if it was a targeted attack on our country’s infrastructure when the damage is done‘ said a regular commentator from Dar es Salaam when discussing the raising of the red flag by the General Manager of the Gas Supply Company, a subsidiary of the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation.
Blast fishing is an illegal practice often criticised here in the past over the massive damage caused to sections of the reefs off the Tanzanian shoreline, the wanton destruction of the habitat of fish needed to reproduce and thrive and the dangers involved for divers and other participants in ocean sports.
For long has the Tanzanian government ignored both threats and impact of blast fishing and the former regime was often being fingered for providing high level protection as blast fishing often openly occurred within earshot of State House in Dar es Salaam or the Yacht Club, hotels and resorts and yet was little done to bring the culprits to book.
Now that the state company responsible for creating gas infrastructure has raised the red flag however is maybe change underway.
Pointing out the vulnerability of the new gas pipeline from the fields off Mtwara to Dar es Salaam is a sure way to get the attention of top security officials no doubt, who above all would fear the finality of being sacked by President Magufuli, who has shown determination elsewhere over corruption and laziness.
Should anything now happen as a result of blast fishing, and, let us hope not a terror strike on these installations, the security chiefs would be the first to be fired now that the problem has been made public. Of course they all knew about it for a long time but chose to ignore it. Tanzania needs monitoring capacity for the navy and even land based security organs to keep a constant eye on the sea lanes. Some years ago Somali pirates managed to land and resupply themselves with water and food. That was criminal neglect on part of the police and others who are supposed to protect our motherland. It was the wananchi (Kiswahili word for local people) who took action. But with blast fishing the line is thin between that illegal practice and criminal actions of a different kind. I guess now they will begin to act, late but better than never‘ the same source then added.

Regular fishermen and of course sports fishers will no doubt be more than happy to see this problem brought under control, as will be marine biologists and marine conservationists, who for long had pointed out the negative impact of blast fishing but to no avail until now.