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How Congolese plunder Lake Victoria resource

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Geza Ulole, Jun 27, 2010.

  1. Geza Ulole

    Geza Ulole JF-Expert Member

    Jun 27, 2010
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    27th June 10
    How Congolese plunder Lake Victoria resource

    They come with briefcases filled with thousands of dollars , and sometimes, with glittering, irresistible diamonds, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) crooks masquerading as merchants venture into Tanzania’s second biggest city of Mwanza.

    On their return trips to their homes, they smuggle thousands of tonnes of immature Nile Perch, in defiance of a triple ban – fishing, processing and exportation in order to save the Lake Victoria’s sharp dwindling stock.

    At Kirumba Mwaloni and many other places in Lake Victoria, the aliens are popularly known as ‘Papaa’.To smoothen their operations, they have, over time, crafted an unholy trinity whose two other components are local fish mongers and fishermen.

    This new unholy trinity fuelled mainly by the rampant harvesting of immature Nile Perch, will perhaps be the second destroyer of Lake Victoria’s perch population.Though they pump millions of dollars to the rock city’s economy annually, their devastation to world’s second largest fresh water lake, Lake Victoria is bigger than their contribution to local livelihoods.

    In August 2009, Tanzania reported sharp dwindling of Nile Perch population in its territory of Lake Victoria, posing a threat to $200 million annual exports industry.

    Nile Perch stock in Tanzania’s territory of Lake Victoria plummeted by 50 percent reaching 200,000 tonnes between January and August, last year, casting a bleak future to the multibillion Nile Perch industries, according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

    The IUCN report further showed that over the past five years, the production of fish from Lake Victoria has represented about 25 percent of the annual total catch from Africa’s inland fisheries.Tanzania owns 51percent of Lake Victoria and has been the leading exporter of Nile Perch fillets to the EU market during the past eight years, followed by Uganda and Kenya.

    This was the first time in the history of Nile Perch for the Tanzania’s side of Lake Victoria to experience a sharp dwindling of stock amounting to 100,000 tonnes in the period of nine months.

    But while the authorities put the blame on the illegal fishing as well as over-fishing, there was an unnoticed plunderer of the world’s second biggest fresh water lake, just from the war-torn DRC.

    “A latest hydro acoustic survey show that the Nile perch stock is now crawling towards 400,000 tonnes, up from 340,000 tonnes in 2008,” Dr John Magufuli, the Livestock and Fisheries Development Minister was quoted by The Guardian on Sunday last week

    To be precise, Dr Magufuli said in Arusha, after dwindling from 750,000 tonnes in 2005 to a mere 337,000 tonnes in 2008, the Nile perch stock is currently standing at 367,000 tonnes.

    As John Magufuli celebrates the recent reports that Lake Victoria’s Perch population is recovering, the truth is that the situation is far from over as Congolese merchants smuggle about 200 tonnes of immature Nile Perch monthly.

    While East African countries have agreed to stop the fishing, processing and exporting on immature Nile Perch below one kilogramme, a move seen as success story so far, local traders have discovered a new market in DRC, where the banned fish are highly demanded.

    According to a recent investigation conducted in Mwanza’s Kirumba market, Congolese traders who claim to be buyers of sardines, have been using the opportunity to smuggle tones of immature smoke dried Nile Perch to DRC.

    Kirumba Market is the biggest fish market in East Africa’s Lake Victoria region with an annual turnover of about $300 million. Previously, Congolese merchants used to buy salty and sun dried Nile perch, which were rejected by the fish processors because of low quality, a trade that conquered the region for decades before the stock plummeted a few years ago.

    Following the sharp dwindling of Nile perch in Lake Victoria, Congolese booming business on sun dried fish known locally as ‘Kayabo’ also tumbled, forcing them to find another option to feed a war torn DRC. Finally according to evidence gathered by The Guardian on Sunday, Congolese merchants who normally arrive in Mwanza with briefcases filled with millions of dollars or sometimes diamonds, discovered an opportunity in smuggling immature Nile Perch.

    Since the East African countries including Tanzania have banned the importation of immature Nile Perch, Congolese merchants decided to use sardines as a cover-up to smoothly facilitate their smuggle of slot fish to DRC.

    According to officials from Lake Victoria Fish Processors Association of Tanzania, if this trend continues untamed, Lake Victoria will very soon again experience a severe stock dwindling. In DRC, especially in Lubumbashi, where mining activities is a booming business, immature Nile Perch below one kilogramme is sold at Sh7000($5) per fish, enabling the merchants to reap huge profits.

    This is because back at Kirumba market, or in fishing camps where local agents frequently go to hunt the immature Nile Perch, fish below one kilogramme fetches about $1.

    “The idea to ban the immature fish was to allow Nile Perch mature…but with activities by the Congolese merchants in full steam, it seems like this plan won’t work, ” one fish processor told The Guardian on Sunday in Mwanza recently.

    According to various stakeholders who spoke to The Guardian on Sunday, while the authorities in the region have succeeded in banning local fish processors from processing slot size perch, local fishermen have continued with the harvest of immature fish, because of the huge demand in DRC.

    In some cases, some fisheries officials are in the payroll of the Congolese merchants, a situation that makes it difficult for the government to curb the smuggling of immature fish in the great lakes region.

    A Congolese trader who declined to be named told The Guardian on Sunday in Mwanza recently, “We have the dollars, and wealth…you have fish, then let’s trade.”

    With a tinge of cynicism, he remarked: “If Nile Perch will disappear, then God or scientists will bring something to takeover from there…Use the dollars we are paying today as an insurance for the future.”

    According to the Congolese trader, it won’t be easy for the Great Lakes Region to stop post War DRC from conquering the region in terms of trade because of the massive wealth, the central African country has.

    Echoing his earlier sentiments for emphasis, he remarked: “Our wealth especially in minerals is equal to the combined GDP of US and Europe…This is why I say, we should just agree on how to trade in stead of trying to block us because we have money.

    “What you don’t want here is highly demanded in my country…you have banned slot size Nile Perch, but they are available in the local market and we buy them openly, before smuggling them to Congo.”

    A similar situation according to reliable sources is also facing Uganda, which geographically borders DRC. It’s believed that Congolese in collaboration with local fishermen in Uganda have been smuggling the immature Nile Perch during the past few years.

    The Guardian on Sunday’s efforts to reach the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development, proved futile, because his phone wasn’t reachable throughout yesterday.

    Our reporter in Dodoma also tried unsuccessfully to trace the minister in order to get his reactions about the situation in Lake Victoria.

    How Congolese plunder Lake Victoria resource
  2. PakaJimmy

    PakaJimmy JF-Expert Member

    Jun 27, 2010
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    I dont blame Congolese traders, but the these citizens who collude with congomen in fraud of the Lake victoria Nile Perch...nchi zote za EA zingekuwa na mawaziri strict kama Magufuli nadhani biashara hii ingekoma jumla!
  3. Bantugbro

    Bantugbro JF-Expert Member

    Jun 27, 2010
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    Unamaanisha hao samaki wanavuliwa nchi za jirani?