The Zanzibar minister for Livestock and Fisheries Abdillahi Hassan Jihad has called for measures to protect sea environment and its endowments by fighting illegal fishing practices that destruct fish coral reef breeding sites.
He made the call yesterday in Malindi, Zanzibar during the launch of a book titled 'Mila na Miiko', meaning 'Customs and Ethos', which explains the role of indigenous knowledge in the management of the marine resources including fish and breeding sites on coral reefs.
Minister Jihad said illegal fishing caused great destruction to fish breeding sites. He called on the society to participate fully in maintaining the marine environment, particularly along the sea shores of Tanzania.
He said governments of both sides will continue to mobilise people and create awareness on best practices for exploration of sea resources and call them to avoid using illegal fishing equipment.
“Most people in Tanzania, particularly those residing close to sea shores and whose live hoods depend on sea products should participate fully in protecting the sea,” said Minister Jihad.
“It is important to implement strategies that will help in managing the resources. We must adopt modern means of protecting coral reefs as they are important fish breeding sites,” the Minister emphasised.
The Director for Marine Science Institute of the University of Dar es Salaam, Prof Desderius Masalu, who represented the Vice Chancellor, Prof Rwekaza Mukandala said the book has been written following a research that was conducted by scientists from Mexico, Australia, Philippines and Tanzania.
He said the book is part of a series of researches under the big project of Coral Reefs Targeted Research (CRTR) which involves about 50 institutes around the world.
He said the project was funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF), the World Bank (WB), Queensland University (Australia) and the US Ocean and Sky Management Authority.
Professor Masalu said the main objective of the project is to curb fundamental shortcomings in understanding the coral reefs ecological systems in order to strengthen and help formulate effective management polices around the globe.
“The book explains how customs and ethos contribute to proper management of coral reefs and fishing resources,” said Prof Masalu who also took part in the research.
He said customs and ethos are very important even in Tanzania, particularly in the protection of natural resources, boosting social welfare, spiritual, cultural and economic growth.
For his part, one of the scientists who participated in the research and preparation of the book, Dr Christopher Muhando, explained the differences of the destruction of coral reefs in ocean beds, one that occurs naturally and one that is brought by human agents.
“This research is a savior to development of the fishing sector and conservation of sea environment along the coast,” said Dr Muhando.
For her part, scientist Dr Mwanahija Shalli, said there were still customs and traditions among people living along the coast that are instrumental in the preservation of sea environment.
She said there are fishermen who believe that elderly members of the society should not fish alongside more youthful counterparts; and those using hooks are not supposed to fish alongside those using nets.
She said that the research found about 14 customs and ethos related to fishing practices that have been used by people on the sea shore for generations.
A total of 14 villages along the seashore, five from Zanzibar, were involved in the research.