Augusta Maita, the Mozambican Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters, and Fisheries said in Maputo on Wednesday that illegal fishing costs the country $60 million per year.
She stated that her Ministry intends to increase its operational resources in order to conduct inspections along the coast, prohibit the use of harmful fishing gear, and develop a long-term human resource plan.
Maita said that the inspection coverage must cover Mozambique’s entire Exclusive Economic Zone during the opening session of the inter-institutional meeting on the implementation of State Port Measures.
“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 60 million dollars”, she said.
Illegal fishermen are motivated by money, added Maita, and their tactics are generally deliberate, organized and systematic. “They violate fisheries laws and regulations in order to reduce their operational costs and increase their profits”, she said.
Fisheries inspection agents, she continued, must seek alternatives to curb the increasingly sophisticated means used by illegal fishermen who spare no effort for-profit and sometimes are involved in other crimes such as the smuggling of banned species and drug trafficking.
For Maita, although fishing is a global industry, dependent on a global regulatory system, in order to operate in a fair and efficient manner, it faces, in addition to illicit practices, pressures dictated by climate change, population growth, and overfishing by international fishing fleets,
“Dealing with these questions, with a significant impact on our dependence on fisheries products, on how they are caught, and on where and how they are consumed, requires complex and multi-sector answers”, declared the Minister. “Hence the need for us to recognize the importance of including fisheries and the fight against illegal, undeclared and unregulated fishing into the strategies for blue growth.
She guaranteed that Mozambique is determined to implement these measures in Maputo, Beira and Nacala ports, with technical assistance from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and from Stop Illegal Fishing, an organization committed to ending the devastating impacts of illegal fishing.