Dar to count its prawns stock soon CHARLES KIZIGHA Daily News; Monday,July 07, 2008 @19:01 An assessment of prawns stock in the Tanzanian waters in the Indian Ocean will start soon, a senior government official told the 'Daily News'. The count is being taken to establish the magnitude of depletion of prawns stock in the sea as a result of unregulated trawling. There are fears that recovery of depleted stocks might take up to 10 years, instead of a year. The government recently suspended commercial trawling for prawns until next year to allow multiplication because harvesting level season dropped from 1,500 to 300 tonnes. Commercial trawling for prawns (white, giant, tiger, brown and flower) in Tanzania is conducted in the Coast Region, mainly at Kisiju, Rufiji and Bagamoyo. The Director of Fisheries, Dr Geofrey Nanyaro, told the 'Daily News' today that stock assessment survey on prawns would start soon to determine the state of recovery before March, which is the beginning of the season. A report on stock assessment is expected to be ready by February and a decision to lift the suspension would then be made. Dr Nanyaro said the study will be conducted by the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI). Industry sources say that recovery period of stocks could take up to ten years because trawlers have over harvested and destroyed breeding and feeding areas. Depletion of prawns was associated with a number of reasons including too many fishing companies compared to available stocks because fishing permits were being easily granted. The number of fishing permits issued did not correspond with the amount of stocks in the ocean, hence the depletion, a source said. Other reasons include unrealistic stock statistics, environmental destruction by crude fishing methods of using heavy chains and inappropriate nets. Some trawlers were reportedly using heavy chains so that they sank deeper in the mud where prawns are found. When the chains vibrate, both small and big size prawns jump into the net. Such methods destroy breeding areas, he said. Trawler operators in Tanzania have between 15 and 20 crew on board compared to five in boats used in Kenya, Mozambique, Angola or Australia. Bearing in mind the prohibitive cost of fuel, insurance and food and the minimal stocks available of large size prawns, there is a tempetation of over fishing and netting small ones so that the fishermen break even and make profit, another source added.