Women-led Tanzania fish workers organization striving to safeguard fishing resources

Published on
October 28, 2022
Women fishers in Tanzania during a meeting of the Tanzania Women Fish Workers Association.

On 30 September, 2022, the Tanzania Women Fish Workers Association (TAWFA) held a Lake Zone Consultative Meeting with more than 3,000 of its members to discuss the future of fishing in the country. 

Held at the Nyakhoja Conference Center in Mwanza City, Tanzania, the meeting was sponsored by the Environmental Management and Economic Development Organization and featured a forum of 150 women leaders of fishing groups across Tanzania. It focused on legal fishing practices across the small-scale sector amidst a nationwide fish deficit, especially in Lake Victoria, one of the African Great Lakes.  

“The government wants all groups in the society to be engaged in the sector, and I urge you women to join groups so as to safeguard fish resources which are threatened by the use of illegal nets, overfishing, and other bad practices,” Tanzania Ministry of Livestock and Fishing Chief Fishing Officer Tumaini Chambua said.

Fishing is imperative to the population of Tanzania, which produced approximately 420,000 metric tons of fish in 2020. More than 4.5 million Tanzanians work in the fishing sector, and around 95 percent of the country’s fishing is sourced from small- scale fisheries, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries said, according to the Tanzania Daily News.

Small-scale fisheries in Tanzania are self-employed and operated fisheries directly impacting local communities. At the event, the female leaders vowed to exclusively practice legal fishing and catching methods.

TAWFA was created in April 2019 with support of the FAO. In attendance at the meeting was FAO Assistant Representative Charles Tulahi, who said the FAO supports the initiative ensuring legal fishing practices. 

“Financial and technical support will be extended to groups of small fishermen in Tanzania because the sector has many people, therefore by supporting them, the fishing sector will grow," Tulahi said.

Additionally, in coordination with the government of Zanzibar, Tanzania has begun to initiate a new and independent fisheries policy to increase fishery production, exports, and create more jobs, the Tanzania Daily News reported. The current development and expansion of Zanzibar's fishing sector are entwined with Tanzania's agricultural policy, Zanzibar Chief Secretary Eng Zena Ahmed said

“Be free to discuss and give views to the proposed new policy. You can continue giving opinions at any planned stakeholders’ forum because we aim at having a comprehensive policy,” Ahmed said. “The new policy is aimed at boosting government revenues from the fisheries sector. The government moves to regulate fisheries in a belief that it will increase the ability to meet social and economic needs.”

Photo courtesy of the Environmental Management and Economic Development Organization

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