Test Design Lighthouse

Multi-Stakeholder Consultation for Anti-Dynamite Fishing Campaign

Fishing using explosives is common in Tanzanian waters in all sections of the coast from Mtwara in the south to Moa in the north. It is currently considered to be more widely practiced in Tanzania than at any other point in history to the extent that is becoming ‘fishing as usual’. Mwambao Coastal Community Network team carried out a multi-stakeholder consultation.


Cover of the study (click for downloading (pdf, 1.9 MB)

Along the Tanzanian coast over two weeks in April 2014 stakeholders from Mtwara on the southern border with Mozambique to Moa on the northern border with Kenya werde visited. Consultations were held with villagers, fisheries officers, government officers, private hoteliers, dive operators, fish processors, NGOs and other key individuals. Comments and recommendations were noted and wherever possible, testimonies were recorded on video. Findings are summarised in this report and as a one-hour video film.


Major towns such as Mtwara, Dar es Salaam and Tanga appear to be the hubs from which most of the ‘dynamite fishing’ originates with powerful well-connected businessmen and others financing the operation and using local villagers as crew. These locations are also the final market destination for fish caught in this manner. Village fishers also engage in the practice at a local level on their own, both with and without use of local boats. Coastal tourism investors are concerned about the impact on the environment as well as their businesses, not to mention the safety of their guests. Recreational divers in the water feel unsafe and their physical wellbeing is at risk. Visitors to the country find it hard to comprehend how the practice is allowed to continue. There is real concern that Tanzania’s reputation as a safe tourist destination is in jeopardy.


The consultation summarised past and present initiatives in combating dynamite fishing and reports stakeholder views on their efficacy. Key enabling factors for the operation of fishing using explosives include easy availability of cheap materials for making explosive devices, wealthy ‘godfathers’ who finance the operation and market the fish, lack of local marine resource ‘ownership’ i.e. inoperational BMUs, ineffective law-enforcement at the district level as a result of corruption of local magistrates and a lack of perception as to the seriousness of the crime, and lack of political will at all levels.


In addition there is an understandable lack of willingness for the Fisheries Development Division to address such a serious security issue on their own without backing from other law enforcement bodies; there is confusion and denial with regard to enforcement roles, there is also lack of clarity as to which laws should be used for prosecution. Hard-line and indiscriminate tactics such as those taken by the navy, have been effective in the short-term but are not welcomed as ‘the solution’.


 Alternative income generating activities and provision of boats, revolving funds etc. have not proved to be effective. Fishers have difficulties repaying loans, and often it is the ‘criminal’ who is rewarded for bad practice rather than the bona fide fisher who uses sustainable fishing methods. Fishers are well aware of the detrimental effects of blast fishing on the environment – they continue because they are ‘poor’, are tempted by the quick returns and are operating largely as ‘pawns’ in a larger game. Local poverty and lack of ‘marine resource ownership’ are conducive to the continued use of explosives for fishing. Urgent short-term solutions have been identified as:

  • tracing the supply chain of bomb-making materials, in particular, explosive gel and detonator caps
  • awareness raising and lobbying of decision-makers at the national level including the leaders of political parties
  • prosecution of key ringleaders in the dynamite fishing networks
  • clarification and enforcement of legal procedures i.e. which laws and penalties apply and who should enforce them
  • translation of relevant legislation into Kiswahili, and wide distribution to stakeholders via the media
  • re-activation of private sector led Tanzania Dynamite Fishing Monitoring Network


It is important to note that many solutions to dynamite fishing also serve to address other forms of destructive fishing. In addition to those mentioned above, longer term but equally important solutions have been identified as:

  • Review of legislation to eliminate ambiguities and increase penalties
  • Magistrate, enforcement and inspection officer training
  • BMU and VLC capacity building to allow local control and decision-making
  • Promotion of good practice at village level
  • Promotion of multiple inspection points in each coastal district
  • Systematic involvement of stakeholders, private sector and local communities


A healthy, safe and prosperous coastal environment with an active business climate and without destructive fishing, relies on political will at all levels, upholding of the law through a non-corrupt enforcement and judicial system, timely and appropriate punishment of offenders, an empowered and ‘supported’ local community, no access to ‘bomb-making’ materials, regular inspection of landed fish, no markets for dynamited fish and a clear idea of roles and responsibilities for monitoring and surveillance. Without tackling these key enabling factors, fishing using explosives will continue to flourish in Tanzania’s coastal waters to the detriment of its people, its environment, its economy, its tourism industry and its reputation as a safe destination.


In addition to a comprehensive report (also available for download on LF-website) and a threepart newsletter, the funding by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), BEST-Dialogue Tanzania and Lighthouse Foundation facilitated the production of a one-hour long film as a result of editing 14 days of film material. Follow up to this activity includes re-editing the material to produce short clips that can be used for awareness-raising, with English sub-titles.


Project partner:

Mwambao Coastal Community Network (MCCN)

Represented by Lorna Slade

P.O. Box 3810,

Zanzibar, Tanzania



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