Unlocking the potential
of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific

How to make Tanzania’s sardine, sprat and perch fisheries more sustainable and productive

Lake Tanganyika fishing communities to benefit from FISH4ACP plan for sustainably managed value chain

6 December 2021, Kigoma – Improved fish handling and processing, access to high-value markets and bridging the gender gap are crucial to make sprats, sardines and perch fisheries in Tanzania stronger, according to experts and stakeholders at a workshop today, discussing plans for a more sustainable and productive value chain.

“Tanzania is Lake Tanganyika’s principal producer of sardine, sprat and perch,” said Rashid Tamatamah, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries at the meeting in Kigoma on how to improve this fishery valued at USD 117 million and employing some 27 000 fishers and 11 000 processors. “We need to cut down post-harvest losses and add value to make it more sustainable and ensure that it provides better jobs, especially for women,” he added.

Tanzania’s sardine, sprat and perch sector is largely artisanal. Poor processing and handling methods result in post-harvest losses of 16 per cent on average, although they can reach 70 per cent during the rainy season. Yields are declining as a result of inadequate fishing methods, climate change and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Current efforts to strengthen this fishery are backed by FISH4ACP, a global initiative led by the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) aimed at making fisheries and aquaculture value chains more productive and sustainable.  

In Tanzania, FISH4ACP joined hands with the government and local partners, including the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI), to develop the improvement plan presented today following an in-depth analysis of Lake Tanganyika’s sardine, sprat and perch value chain, which identified the main challenges to the sector’s development. 

“What sets FISH4ACP apart is the focus on all three pillars of sustainable development - people, planet and prosperity,” said Andrea Massarelli of the EU Delegation in Tanzania. “Underpinning this plan lies a vision for a stronger sprat, sardine and perch value chain that clearly echoes those priorities.”  

During the meeting, 60 key stakeholders and experts involved in Lake Tanganyika’s fisheries discussed how to realize this vision. They agreed that reducing post-harvest losses requires improved fish handling and processing techniques and pointed out the potential environmental benefits. Examples like energy-efficient smoking kilns show that these techniques can also reduce the ecological footprint of Lake Tanganyika’s fisheries. 

“Promoting sustainable growth and bringing benefits to Lake Tanganyika’s fishing communities is no easy task,” said Martin van der Knaap, FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Officer.  Linking up to high-value markets to increase revenues and stimulate employment is just one side of the coin, he explained. “It’s not only about more jobs, but also about better jobs - healthier, safer,” he said, adding: “This is why we have to focus on women, because our analysis of the value chain showed that they are more at risk and benefit less than men.”