Dar es Salaam Fish Market


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Africa » Tanzania » East » Dar es Salaam
May 31st 2008
Published: May 31st 2008
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Sunrise over the Indian Ocean at BagamoyoSunrise over the Indian Ocean at BagamoyoSunrise over the Indian Ocean at Bagamoyo

The fishing dhows head out for the day's fishing.
Recently, we were in Dar es Salaam to meet our daughter at the airport before having a little holiday with her in and around Tanzania. One morning we were at a loose end in Dar so we visited, with the help of a local guide, the Dar es Salaam fish market. I thought you might be interested to learn a little about fisheries in this country and see some pictures from the market.

Like agriculture, the fishery in Tanzania is predominantly a subsistence activity. While there is a commercial side to it, people fish largely for their own needs, selling only their excess catch. The two main fisheries in the country are the coastal fishery in the Indian Ocean, and the lake fisheries in Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika. On the commercial side, shrimp and lobster are caught off the coast along with snapper, shark, kingfish and a number of other species. In the lakes the principal catch is Nile perch. In Dodoma we are often able to buy frozen Nile perch fillets from Lake Victoria and enjoy them several times a month. Tanzania is a net exporter of Nile perch, shrimp and lobster. This component of the economy makes a significant contribution to foreign exchange in the country.

While there are some modern fishing boats in operation, the majority of the 43000 or so fishermen operate from small boats, dhows, canoes, outriggers and dinghies. Last October we spent a few days in Bagamoyo, about 70 km up the coast from Dar, and watched the fishermen head off in their dhows each morning at sunrise and return in the evening.

Regulation of the fishery is a large concern. Off the coast the fishermen are doing damage by catching immature fish and sea turtles and also damaging the habitat in the process of their work. There is a practice called ‘dynamite fishing’ here that has been outlawed but, notwithstanding, is still being used and is doing damage to the habitat. In Lake Victoria it is thought that the Nile perch is being over fished and the supply will run out if not regulated. Many of the local people, I understand, object to government interference in their fishing and do not cooperate……it all sounds a little familiar and suggests that a couple of Newfoundland cod fishermen could give some useful advise on this one.

The fish market in Dar es Salaam is the focal point of the coastal commercial fishery. Several years ago as part of an aid package the Japanese government built the structures. It is a big operation with five large open air buildings, one containing kitchens where food is prepared to feed the workers in the market, one where much of the fish is laid out for sale, one building where fish is cleaned, one where there is an ongoing auction of fish to street vendors, and another building where fish is cooked in oil for sale on the street or in other smaller markets. It was a great place to visit with a guide. On a couple of occasions when people appeared annoyed with our taking pictures our guide stepped in and told them not to be so unpleasant (or words to that effect in Swahili - I am sure he was very polite.)

So, I hope you enjoy the pictures of the Dar fish market. It provided us another opportunity to learn a little more about this country and to catch a fascinating glimpse of life and commerce here in Tanzania.




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These ladies invited Gerry to try her hand at shredding coconut.These ladies invited Gerry to try her hand at shredding coconut.
These ladies invited Gerry to try her hand at shredding coconut.

The meat of the coconut is shredded and then boiled to make coconut milk that is used generally in cooking. Gerry decided to stick to her regular job.
Waiting for the fishWaiting for the fish
Waiting for the fish

These ladies were waiting for fish to be auctioned off. They will fill the buckets they are sitting on with fish and then carry them on their heads to smaller street markets to sell the fish - they hope at a profit.


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