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Status of fisheries research and availability of fishery information in Tanzania


Edna A. Nyika and Dr N. Jiddawi
Institute of Marine Sciences
University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


The paper traces the origin of fisheries research in Tanzania since the establishment of the East African Marine Fisheries Research Organisation (EAMFRO) and the East African Freshwater Fisheries Research Organisation (EAFFRO) under the old East African Community. After the dissolution of the Community, research work was taken over by the national successor institutions, the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) of the University of Dar es Salaam and the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI) respectively.


Research trends indicate a slow start in the early 1900s peaking up after the 1980s. Between 1929 and 1999, a total of 334 references on marine fisheries was identified.[5]

Figure 1. Trends in fisheries research

Out of the total identified references, about 70% remain as ‘grey literature’ and only 16% (52 reports) was found to have been published in international journals. The rest of the references appear in reports of proceedings. A few are M.Sc. and Ph.D. theses. The 'grey literature' was difficult to access with only one copy of the document available, in many cases with the author (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Presentation of research

In terms of spatial coverage, the studies show bias towards areas with research institutions or donor-funded projects. The majority of the reports come from Zanzibar, Mafia, Mtwara, Tanga, Dar es Salaam and Songosongo. A few are from Rufiji, but large areas of the country remain unstudied (Fig. 3).

Figure 3. Research coverage

On subject coverage, the majority of the work (43%) deals with fisheries development followed by coral reef and reef-associated fisheries. Other areas covered include conservation, protected areas, fish taxonomy, biology, resource status, and aquaculture (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Subject coverage


In Tanzania several institutions deal with fishery related activities. These research or training institutions deal with marine and freshwater fisheries.

The University of Dar es Salaam

At the University main campus, the central library is the main information centre, although information relevant to fisheries and aquatic biodiversity is found in other centres, including the Faculty of Aquatic Science and Technology; Institute of Marine Sciences, Institute of Resource Assessment, and the University Consultancy Bureau.

The Institute of Marine Sciences

Until recently the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) library was the only library with many fisheries publications. This is because the institute inherited all the books, reports and reprints owned by the defunct East African Community. On top of the inherited materials IMS has continued to receive fisheries technical reports from FAO and ICLARM/WorldFish Center.

IMS library holdings

IMS library holdings include general collections, periodicals, theses and dissertations. Science and Biology Abstracts in CD-ROM are also kept in the IMS library, FAO technical reports, undergraduate students project reports, postgraduate dissertations, theses and ASFA (Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts) CDs. The IMS also maintains all reports from consultancy works undertaken by staff of the IMS and other University Departments. With assistance from FAO and ODINAFRICA the IMS has access to ASFA and other fisheries related databases on Internet.

Information Technology

The IMS library is managed using Inmagic’s DB/TextWorks software purchased through support from the ODINAFRICA project under the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO funded by the Government of Flanders (Belgium).

Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI)

The Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI) is the lead fisheries research institute mandated to carry out short term and long term fisheries research both in the marine and freshwater ecosystems. TAFIRI comprises five centres including, Mwanza and Soti on Lake Victoria; Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika; Kyela on Lake Nyasa; and Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean. The Dar es Salaam centre also serves as the Institute's headquarters.

Information holdings

Mbegani Fisheries Development Centre

Mbegani Fisheries Development Centre, established in 1967, offers long-term training in a number of courses including boat building, marine engineering, fish processing, marketing and quality control. In addition, the Centre offers short and tailor-made courses in fisheries and fisheries related sciences. Mbegani was a partner in stock assessment surveys conducted in the early 1980s by Bergen University, Norway. Reports from this assessment however still remain in the Norwegian university.

Information holdings

Data and information in Mbegani relate primarily to the courses offered in the centre. Documentation holdings include textbooks, journals, newsletters, and CD-ROMs. The centre attempted to produce the Mbegani Fisheries Bulletin, but discontinued after the first release due to financial constraints. A new effort is planned to compile traditional ecological knowledge of coastal fishing communities.

Fisheries Division, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism

The Division of Fisheries in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT) is responsible for the formulation of fisheries policies, the development of management plans and strategies, and the enforcement and monitoring of fisheries legislation. The division generates lots of information on the country's fisheries, particularly information on fish catches. For this purpose, the division uses TANFIS (Tanzania Fisheries Information System), a software developed through FAO assistance.

Unlike most other institutions, the Fisheries Division has trained information technology specialists, modern computers and Internet connectivity enabling fast processing of the huge data. The Division plans to links departmental computers through a local area network with further plans to upgrade the link to a wide area network linking data capture centres to the headquarters.

Information holdings


With all of the successes in fisheries development in Tanzania there have been problems related to fisheries information availability and management. Most of the institutions dealing with fisheries management have expressed concern on the following constraints:



Tanzania has carried out fisheries research activities for many years and hence has many publications to be shared by scientists within and outside the country. If these research findings are collected, organized and made accessible to all, Tanzania could make a great contribution to the African Fisheries Information Network.

[5] Jiddawi, N.S. 2000. Status of marine fisheries research in Tanzania. In: Report of the National Fisheries and Biodiversity Documentation Workshop, Institute of Marine Sciences, Tanzania, 30th October 2000, pp 10

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