By The Guardian Correspondent
17th April 2010
The wind was blowing towards the sea shore and the air was cool. Fishermen were busy, either filling their hurricane lamps with kerosene or loading their fishing gear onto dhows which were to set out shortly after before night fall for a fishing expedition.
The phenomenon is a common site at Sahare fish receiving station, the city’s oldest fish collection area, where a dozen or so young men with suspicious faces, on tattered apparel, gather in the evenings for whatever reasons, munching mirungi and chewing gum, a worrying situation which almost deterred this scribe to abandon his mission.
But courage prevailed and he approached a middle aged man, who claimed to be a fisherman who expressed pessimism as far as illegal fishing was concerned.
“It is simply impossible to wipe out the vice; for how do you except to be brought to control when the people who are supposed to fight the vice are partners in the illegal undertaking?, asked the fisherman who identified himself as Ali Hamdani, aged 70 years.
He said over fishing using illegal gear, including the use of nets with very small holes, was rampant.
“The problem with this type of nets is that they destroy the entire fish population in an area, irrespective of their age – from eggs to juvenile fish and other living organisms”, said Hamdani.
Hamdani said he started his carrier as fisherman when he was 16, asserting that the deployment of patrol units aimed at confronting perpetrators of illegal fishing cannot wholly be relied upon to contain the situation because in most cases they team up with culprits.
“The real culprits who are people with financial muscle conduct the operations with impunity because they have a tendency of taming not only the patrol team but also the government officials who are directly involved in the control of the vice”.
He said “, What proves my case is the fact that on the days when the patrol team is in operation, the bandits are given a tip before hand; so they suspend their activities on those days”, adding that even where it happens that one of the culprits has been apprehended, there will always of setting him off the hook before the law lakes its course.