How would you describe the development of fish production in Mozambique over the past year and what are your expectations for the upcoming year?
In 2015, Mozambique had an annual production of 287,720 tons of fisheries products, comprising shallow and deep-water prawns, tuna, and a variety of demersal and pelagic finfish, crustaceans, and cephalopods from both marine and fresh water environments. This represents a slight growth of 13% when compared to 2014. Looking at the segmental contribution to overall production, around 90% was harvested by small-scale fisheries, while aquaculture accounts for less than 1%. Currently, the country exports nearly 5% of the production (12,877 tons), but there is potential to increase all those figures and maximize the economic benefits for the country. In 2016, the government will continue providing special attention to promoting national and foreign private investments mainly for two underutilized segments—tuna exploitation and mariculture both at industrial and small-scale levels. Investments in aquaculture parks to increase fresh water fish farming capacity and the processing industry are amongst our top priorities. Special attention will also be given to the development of fisheries-supporting infrastructure, thus creating an enabling environment for either long distance or national fishing fleet operations.
What action is the ministry taking to promote both local and foreign investments in the fishing and aquaculture industry?
A sound institutional and legal framework is in place. We have a new Fisheries Act and legislation on investment in Mozambique (Law on Investment, Regulations and Code of Fiscal Benefits for Investment). These instruments provide incentives for the entry of foreign capital for fishing and aquaculture. We have completed the first stage of mapping of potential areas for mariculture and the same exercise is being done for fresh water/inland aquaculture. In addition, we are reviewing a plan of action for aquaculture development both industrial and small-scale. Complementary to the legal framework abovementioned, the sector is undertaking other interventions toward disseminating the unique environmental potential of the country to encourage private sector investments in tuna fisheries and mariculture.
Are fishers conscious of the consequences that climate change, overfishing, pollution, or illegal fishing can have on the industry?
One of the main role of the Ministry of Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries is to ensure the monitoring, control, and surveillance of fishing activity. Our interventions in this field, especially in the form of educational campaigns, have been useful for raising community awareness with regard to illegal fishing, overfishing, and pollution. Additionally, the implementation of specific external co-funded development programs with focus on socioeconomic development helps us strengthen and raise community awareness on issues related to best practices, responsible fishing, environmental sustainability, the importance of preserving ecosystems, as well as the impacts of climate change in fisheries. Currently, the Ministry, in collaboration with relevant sectors, is in the process of drafting an action plan to help minimize the impact of climate change and build resilience in the fisheries sector.
The Fisheries Museum opened recently. What is the main goal behind this initiative?
The main goal behind this initiative is to disseminate and protect the fisheries cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations. This strategic development objective will be accomplished through a combination of several interventions in the field of research, collection, preservation, maintenance, and disclosure/propagation of fishery cultural heritage. The fisheries museum will have a twofold perspective—science and public education.
What are your goals for the Ministry for the next three years?
Priority will be given to dissemination of the country's natural and environmental potential for fishing industry development. National and foreign private-sector investors will be given due attention and recommended to consider investment in tuna fisheries, mariculture, and fresh water aquaculture. The processing industry, using artisanal production as raw materials, could also be attractive for the establishment of processing plants. The construction and/or rehabilitation of fishing support infrastructures will be a top priority line of intervention.