Mozambique: Inspectors Clash With Fishermen Over Illegal Nets

Maputo — Fishermen using illegal fishing gear in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula on Monday attacked fisheries inspectors who tried to seize and destroy their nets, reports Tuesday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”.

The incident happened in Moma district, where a team of fisheries inspectors and police were monitoring whether the local fishermen are respecting the closed season for catching mangrove crabs and surface water prawns.

When they inspected the Moma fishermen’s nets they found that the mesh was far too fine. Fishermen have frequently used mosquito nets, and nets of a similar mesh, which catch not only adult fish, abut also juvenile fish and crustaceans and larvae, thus damaging the reproductive capacities of the species.

The inspectors ordered that all the damaging and illegal nets should be collected and burnt. The fishermen, some of them armed with clubs, resisted. The police fired in the air to disperse them.

One of the fishermen interviewed by “O Pais”, Hassane Momad, said “I was born here, I grew up here and I live from fishing. What worries us is that they are burning our nets. How are we going to live like this?”

But the fisheries inspectors had no intention of listening to sob stories. The National Director of Fisheries Inspection Operations, Leonid Santana, told reporters “We are taking extreme measures, and they are covered by the law. When fishing gear is damaging, it has to be confiscated and destroyed. When there is great evil, strong measures must be used. We are destroying the nets to persuade the fishermen to stop using this kind of gear”.

As for the closed season, he pointed out that in Moma it only covers mangrove crabs and surface water prawns. “We’re not banning fishing”, said Santana. “All the other fisheries are still open”.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique