DAR ES SALAAM
(Xinhua) -- Toxins in the form of
pesticides and urea based fertilizer and dynamite
fishing are threatening East Africaís biggest delta
Rufijiís famous prawn supply, as well as other
marine resources in the sanctuary.
This is despite the area being a
reserved national wetland and a newly added site for
protection in accordance to the Ramsar Convention, an
international agreement that provides for the
conservation and good use of wetlands.
As the residents in the delta
preparing for evacuation and relocation ahead of the
expected floods and subsequent submergence of the
land, their health is reported to be endangered from
the illegal use of toxic chemicals in the area.
Visiting Nyamisati village for a
meeting with villagers last weekend, Coast Regional
Commissioner Mwantum Mahiza said the ongoing illegal
logging and agricultural activities are threatening
the ecosystem of the national mangrove forest.
"My focus here is to caution
them against invasion of the national mangrove
forest for paddy production, charcoal making and
overexploitation of mangrove forests for
timber," she explained.
It is reported that there is a steep
decline of fish in the delta and surrounding islands,
and researchers have cautioned that if serious
measures are not urgently taken to reverse the
situation, dynamite fishing and the deployment of
other toxins will continue to affect prawn fishing in
the delta and other marine resources.
Prawns are an important foreign
exchange earner and they flourish in the mangrove
ecosystem , hence the dire need for the villagers, who
are the artisanal fishermen, to be educated on
environmental conservation, the effects of illegal
fishing and use of toxins in the delta, and the
general practices to conserve the forest and prawn
The supposedly reserved and protected
area is also plagued with the over-exploitation of
mangrove for timber and charcoal to meet demands in
Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam regardless of the
environmentally degrading and even potentially
Mahiza called on all village leaders
in Nyamisati, Salale and elsewhere to cooperate and
work with the Mangrove Management Department, the
Rufiji District Council and forest officers in
charge of conservation and protection.
"..donít involve political
issues in this project..," she cautioned the
local government leaders and called on agricultural
experts to train farmers on modern farming
technology and methods particularly in paddy
Currently, the efforts focus on the
contact and engagement with villagers to sensitize
them on the issue, identify their needs and impart
them modern farming methods as well as hybrid seeds
that will cope with the deltaís saline conditions
and the ongoing climate change that will see the area
submerged in the not so distant future.
However, according to reports, the
efforts are not effective and experts said a new
approach or rejuvenated effort must be employed to
save the delta and the prawn industry.
Located over 100 kilometers south of
Dar es Salaam, the Rufiji River Delta is by far the
largest in Eastern Africa and contains the largest
estuarine mangrove forest on the eastern seaboard of
the African continent.
A large part of the area is covered
with an estimated 55,000 hectares of salt tolerant
mangrove forests which offers shelter to migratory
wetland birds and is home to a large variety of
Hippopotamuses, otters, the Sykesí
monkeys, even the Nile crocodiles are found in the