Mozambique: Fishery Authorities Destroy 410 Items of Harmful Fishing Gear

Maputo — The Mozambican Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries has seized and destroyed 410 items of harmful fishing gear from a total of 7,134 inspected throughout the second fortnight of October.

In the initial weeks of the closed season for mangrove crab fishing, starting in October and ending on 31 December, the fishery authorities have also charged fines amounting to 179,134 meticais (about 2,450 US dollars), of which 50,000 meticais have already been paid.

A total of 97 fishing centres along the country’s coastline were visited, and 238 vessels mostly canoes were checked.

The inspections, undertaken by 63 missions on land and three others at sea, were announced on Tuesday in Maputo by the ministry’s director of operations, Leonid Chimarizene, speaking at a press conference, held mainly to announce the prawn fishing closed season.

“This is our preliminary balance of the first 15 days of the restrictions on crab fishing,” said Chimarizene, adding that it is the first time the country has taken such a move, strongly contested by fishermen who claim that fishing is their only way to make a living.

A few days after the start of the closed season, small-scale fishermen were reluctant to abide by the rules but Chimarizane claimed that awareness campaigns have contributed significantly to changing their minds. However, some still venture out to sea, especially at night, as they believe the inspection teams will not spot them.

Cassamo Junior, deputy managing-director of fisheries, said the closed season is intended to preserve the fishing resources, after an assessment carried out by the Fishery Research Institute (IIP) recommended the adoption of a closed season.

Junior announced that the closed season for prawns will last for five months. It is expected that the closed season for these shellfish will lead to a rapid recovery of prawn and crab biomass, so that they can attain biologically sustainable levels.

“The government establishes closed seasons for the various fisheries every year”, he said. “For surface water prawns, the closed season begins on 1 November, and ends on 31 Mach 2021”

The closed season for prawns covers three areas – the Bank of Sofala, which is generally thought to be the richest fishing ground in the country, covering the waters off the coast of Sofala, Zambezia and Nampula provinces, the Bay of Maputo, and the mouth of the Limpopo river.

Mozambique’s artisanal and semi-industrial fishing vessels have the capacity to catch 6,000 tonnes a year of surface water prawns. So far this year, 5,800 tonnes have been caught, which persuaded the government to start the closed season in November, in order not to overfish the resources.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique