Ocean Economy

Tanzanian coastal resources are of immense strategic importance to many social and economic sectors such as shipping, fishing, tourism, trade, agriculture, settlements and industrial developments. Nearly 16 million people live on the coastal Tanzania and rely on coastal resources for their livelihood.

In December 2007, the national review of Tanzania’s Ocean Economy by the UN FAO described that the Fisheries Sector generates the following types of employment:

  1. Fishing: There are 149,946 artisanal fishermen in the artisanal sub sector;
  2. Boat building: artisans are finding employment in numerous artisanal boatbuilding yards scattered along the Indian Ocean coastline and on the shores of the major lakes.
  • Net mending: provides jobs in all fishing villages.
  1. Fish processing (small scale and industrial): About 4,000 people employed in the fish processing sub sector (includes fish processing plants and the prawn fishing crews);
  2. Aquaculture: Offers employment to about 18 000 (Freshwater fish farming, seaweed farming and prawn farming);
  3. Other ancillary activities: A large number of jobs- many part-time – are found in food vending and other petty business in the fisher communities, all totaling about 2.0 million people;

Ports and Harbours Infrastructure: Both sea and inland waterways ports in Tanzania are managed and operated by the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA). Dar es Salaam is the principal port and has an intrinsic capacity of 10.1m t per year. The port handles over 92 per cent of the total maritime ports’ throughput. The port serves land linked countries of Malawi, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

Oil and gas resources: Tanzania has been a natural gas producer for many years, from the Songosongo and Mtwara regions, and recent natural gas finds in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, are the largest global finds in 20 years, constituting some 30-65 Tcf (trillion cubic feet) of recoverable gas resources.

Fisheries / Aquaculture: Tanzania is characterized by multi-species fish stocks. According to global species database FishBase, Tanzania has some of the world’s richest fishing grounds, with more than 1,700 species recorded in its waters. Of these, 47 are commercially important, 69 are found only in deep water and 171 are threatened. 25 per cent of the country’s population depend on coastal resources for their livelihoods. Over 180,000 people are employed in the fisheries sector, with a further 19,223 people involved in fish farming.

Key coastal and marine fisheries include tuna, swordfish, prawns, demersal fish (grouper and snapper), octopus, and mariculture (shrimp farms, seaweed, shellfish culture)

In 2015, fish production was estimated around 376,000 metric tons a year, with around 97 per cent of fish sourced from small-scale fisheries. Aquaculture produces about 10,317 tonnes including seaweed (450 tonnes). Despite the huge estimated potential of this sector, it is considered largely untapped. There are presently 21,300 fishponds used for aquaculture.

Despite the country’s low consumption of fish, at 5.6 kg/person/year, fish makes up 19.7% of the country’s animal protein intake.

The main groups of fish that dominate marine catches in Tanzania are demersal fish species such as bream, grouper, parrot fish, snapper, rabbit fish, emperor, sharks and rays. Coral reefs also support over 70 per cent of the artisanal fish production in Tanzania. It is estimated that a sustainable yield of 15 tonnes of fish can be obtained per km2 in depth of less than 30m in some coral reefs.

Seaweed is cultured in shallow subtidal areas in Zanzibar and Pemba Islands (Tanzania), mostly by women. Dried seaweed is sold to middlemen, exported and used for medicine, toothpaste and agar.