Today we feature another article from our partner in SAIIA, Romy Chevallier, on the destructive practices of dynamite fishing in Tanzania.
Tanzania is home to an extensive network of coral reefs whose biodiversity and beauty support major artisanal and commercial fishing and tourism industries. Roughly two-thirds of the country’s 1400 km coastline harbours fringing and patch reefs along a narrow continental shelf and several offshore islands. Besides being highly productive ecosystems and providing significant livelihood support to surrounding communities, coral reefs also form an invaluable coastal barrier, protecting the land from heavy storms and wave action. However, Tanzania’s reefs are currently threatened by a highly destructive and illegal activity called blast or dynamite fishing. Although dynamite fishing was officially banned in 2003 this destructive practice continues to take place due to the easy access of cheap explosives. Tanzania is also the only country in Africa where dynamite fishing still occurs on a large scale. Each bomb blast kills fish and other living organisms within a 20m radius, and has a profound impact on coral recruitment, often removing all viable seed populations of coral. Bombs are sourced from the artisanal gold mining sector, or from other industries such as road construction enterprises. Some bombs are artificially made from fertilisers and diesel. However, evidence now suggests that there are organised criminal networks involved.
Romy Chevallier, senior researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, is currently writing a policy briefing on this destructive practice, providing research and policy recommendations to improve regulation and law enforcement to reduce the use of dynamite fishing. Although there is currently a lot of work on-going in this area, Romy believes her voice will contribute to the governance debate and elevate the issue to a regional audience