Tanzanian fishermen exploit GPS potential in fishing

Tanzanian fishermen exploit GPS potential in fishing

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Tanzania: Several artisanal fishermen in Zanzibar and Tanga in Africa use GPS device for smoother navigation at the sea. “So far most of the fishermen can only use it to record the distance between two points. It can be used to earmark a location by recording the latitude and longitude of the location,” said a fisherman who uses GPS in Dar es Salaam.

Fidelis Ntima, Fisheries Officer at Magogoni fish market in Dar es Salaam, said GPS has brought relief to fishermen along the coast. “We will propose to the ministry to find a way to support these new developments among the fishermen”, he said. Since most of the artisanal fishermen vessels are small in size, they are always susceptible to high tides which can wreck the boat, hence, the need arises to know exactly the spot they want to go for fishing to avoid such calamities.

Ntima added most of the small scale fishermen could only reach fishing grounds in a distance of 12 nautical miles. Tanzania fishing territory extends to 200 nautical miles. The coastal area extends from Tanga to Mtwara and covers over 800km. Speaking to the Daily News, he said that it was a major breakthrough for them to be able to use the device.

He said that virtually around the world many sailors use GPS for determining the speed, compass heading and estimated time of arrival. He admitted that many sailors do not know how to use their GPS functions to maximize their windward performance.

Most sailors will place “Way Points” in their GPS of the marks of the course or their harbour entrance destination, he added. He therefore urged the need for training artisanal fisherman on other utilities in the GPS so as to maximise its usage. Another expert in using GPS, Abdul Wahaabi, who has worked in the Middle East in the fishing industry, said that most sailors will place ‘Way Points’ in their GPS.

“Most GPSs use similar terminology; the discussion should apply to all units. Several cheap Garmin GPS 72 units use their screens to illustrate the technique,” he noted. However, he advised that for such skills to be available to the fishermen, it needs support to train them and import such gadgets, calling for fisheries to ‘popularize the device use among the artisanal fishermen’.

“These gadgets which are very helpful to the artisanal fishermen as per their testimonies are not available in the local market, thus, making them too expensive once imported,” he remarked. Some boat owners have said that it was worth investing in GPS given the risks that fishermen face in the sea.

“We are talking in terms of 17 to 20 people on board fishing boat which puts them at risk if they are not aware of the climate conditions,” he said. He also said that the value of a boat is over 8m/-, that means a serious financial risk that boat owners are undertaking.

“If a boat has GPS it minimises some of the risks since the captain can calculate the speed and direction the boat should take to avoid high tides and winds,” he explained, adding, otherwise the boat will be wrecked. Mohammed Hassan who is a resident of Kunduchi said that he had advised the government to impart knowledge on operating in the sea to artisanal fishermen. “It is unfortunate that some fishermen go on fishing without any knowledge about the sea,” he said.

Source: allAfrica