Mozambique fires fisheries minister

Published on
March 9, 2022
Former Mozambique Fisheries Minister Augusta Maita.

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi has appointed Lídia de Fátima da Graça Cardoso the country's new sea, inland waters, and fisheries minister, after the previous minister and several other people holding government positions were fired.

Cardoso becomes the third holder of the position since it was created through presidential decree in 2015.

Cardoso, who has been serving as deputy health minister, replaces Augusta Maita, dismissed in early March in a major reshuffle that also saw Mozambique Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario sacked, together with five other cabinet ministers, Reuters reported.

Maita, who spearheaded the updating of Mozambique’s fisheries law and the passing of the country’s general regulation of maritime fisheries, took charge of the ministry in 2020 from the previous holder, Agostinho Salvador Mondlane. Prior to that, Maita served as the director general of Mozambique’s relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute. No reason was given for her dismissal.

Maita’s last assignment – barely a week before her removal – was opening an inter-institutional meeting on the implementation of the United Nations’ Port State Measures Agreement. Maita had advocated for Mozambique to joint an international effort to curb illegal fishing through intensifying marine fisheries’ inspections, outlawing harmful fishing gear, and building capacity to ensure sustainability through sound governmental policies.

“We in the fisheries sector are key actors – we must vigorously fight all forms of illegal fishing, from the least-sophisticated, such as the use of mosquito nets in artisanal fishing, to the supranational illegal, undeclared, and unregulated fishing, which is responsible for annual losses in Mozambique, estimated at USD 60 million [EUR 54.1 million],” she said.

In addition to battling persistent illegal fishing in Mozambique, the new sea, inland waters, and fisheries minister will be expected to carry on with Mozambique's current plan to increase the area of its marine protected areas by fivefold from 2 percent to 10 percent of the country's domestic waters by 2024 and expanding MPA coverage to 30 percent by 2030.

Among the other new government changes, Simeao Lopes was appointed chairman of the board of directors of the Blue Economy Development Fund (ProAzul), a government entity established in November 2019 under the Ministry of Sea, Inland Waters, and Fisheries to support government efforts to energize investment and growth of Mozambique’s blue economy.  

Mozambique previously prioritized the development of its fisheries sector through a USD 850 million (EUR 768 million) bond to support a 15-year plan for the development of the country’s tuna-fishing industry. However, that project was beset by fraud, resulting in global investment bank and financial services firm Credit Suisse agreeing to pay penalties of over USD 500 million (EUR 429 million) in October 2021.

Photo courtesy of Stop Illegal Fishing

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