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File photo: O País
Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Agostinho Mondlane, says that the government is still in consultations with a view to operationalising the Mozambican Tuna Company’s 30-boat fleet, currently moored and inactive in the port of Maputo.
According to Mondlane, the government is taking all necessary precautions, but at the same time it is in consultations with a view to finding a solution to the vessels which, since their acquisition in 2013 from a shipyard in France at a cost of US$850 million, have been idle and docked in Maputo.
Speaking on Wednesday on the fringes of a presentation ceremony for the planned Blue Economy conference called “Growing Blue” which is due to place in Mozambique on May 23 and 24, Minister Mondlane said that there were companies operating in the Mozambican fishing market based both in Mozambique and abroad.
“These companies are newly created and growing as part of the strategy to internalise tuna catch in the country. Because until very recently only foreign vessels came to the country to license for tuna catch destined to the international market,” the minister said.
The minister said that vessels from Japan and European Union countries represent the majority of the tuna fishing fleet in Mozambican waters.
According to Mondlane, the ministry’s information is that Namibia, a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and countries from Latin America and Asia are also interested in importing tuna from Mozambique.
However, the fact that these companies are still at an “embryonic” stage means that they do not give meet the necessary conditions to satisfy external demand for tuna.
Tuna fishing is currently at a halt. Despite the interregnum, by 2017 the catch reached an estimated volume of about 5,000 tons.
The interregnum, according to Minister Mondlane, is related to transparency considerations, still under discussion with the European Union, Japan, and other countries in order to ensure that catch declarations are realistic.
According to the minister, the process presupposes a variety of procedures and principles which, under the aegis of the FAO, a UN agency, aim to ensure transparency and an accurate statement of what is captured in Mozambican waters.
As an example, Agostinho Mondlane pointed out that tuna is a migratory species, and operators might enter [national waters] and fish but choose to declare lower quantities than they actually catch.
“So we are discussing and making the necessary realignments,” the minister said, pointing to the issue of lack of transparency, especially of the vessels from distant countries that come here to fish, as one of those leading the country to plan the localisation of tuna fishing, and get companies interested in fishing for tuna to be based in Mozambique.
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