BMUs plays a great role in sense of marine conservation and community development and this is only if they are well formulated and given full mandate to control their resources. BMUs has very big roles to play, such as undertaking monitoring activities, licence inspections, inspection to illegal fishing, protecting resources from all forms of pollution, resources data collection, environmental conservation, tax collection and many more.
However, the case is deferent to BMUs in Mtwara district. BMUs here are very week that their contributions even to environmental conservation activities are minimal. BMUs do not have facilities to help them in daily activities such as gumboot, boat, no security facilities, not funded and bad enough they don’t even collect taxes as a source of revenue for community development and facilitating different BMUs’ activities.
As we visited BMUs on 24th 08 2011 at Mbuo, Namgogoli, and Mgao villages, these were the issue raised and one man at Mgao said; “As we were given these training we expected to be supported with facilities that will enable us to undertake the said duties.
Can you think how could us be able to undertake monitoring, inspections and fish bombing operations while we don’t have even gumboot, boat, or security? Boy! These people are so dangerous and bad enough some government officials such as natural resources officials, police, and court personnel have interests on these activities so it puts us in dangerous situation.
I asked them a question; “That to say the taxes you collect does not even enable you to buy facilities like gumboot, or bicycle?” “...Hahaaaa! Tax? Are we collecting tax! We are not collect tax and we don’t know if we are supposed to do it. We are just volunteering even though this work is so risky...” One man answered. Another added; “You boy! As you see me here, the fishermen are not selling me fish because of this unpaid work but also our lives are in danger from bombers...”
On those circumstances on 25th 08 2011 I decided to visit Mtwara district Fisheries office to understand reality of these weaknesses. Fishery Officer said; “It is true that there are those weaknesses that these BMUs are not fully empowered.
They were supposed to undertake monitoring activities, licences inspection, data collection, environmental conservation on seashores, pollution protection, but also they are the one which were supposed to given mandate for tax collection. You know what; BMUs are very useful and helpful to us on resources management. For instance, they are the one who can enable illegal activities operation to succeed as they are near to the field compared to us who comes so far. It is a challenge that we expect them to do big while they are not empowered in terms of equipments as well as financially...”
What about the issue of tax collection, do these BMUs given mandate to collect them? I asked the Officer. “Yes it was supposed to be so but the issue is that most if not all BMUs in Mtwara are not legally registered therefore it is difficult to be given such authority...” So do they suppose to ask for such registration or government itself decide it? I asked another question. “They are the one and they did so a long time ago, but till we sent them to head quarter no answer had been provided to a moment and we are on waiting…”.
Sure we are on waiting and we will wait till our resources totally diminished and poverty had entered even to our natural resources that at a moment are part of our richness.
Samli Hassan-YET 2011