Multi-Agency Task Team, Tanzania
In an effort to find a lasting and effective solution to the escalating cases of environmental and wildlife crime taking place in Tanzania the Honourable Minister for Home Affairs, Mathias Meinrad Chikawe, launched a Multi-Agency Task Team (MATT) in 2015.
Aimed at coordinating efforts and resources, the Task Team is led by the Tanzania Police Force and includes the Tanzania Forest Services, the Wildlife Division, Fisheries Division, Tanzania Intelligence and Security Services as well as seeking engagement with the criminal justice system.
The Multi-Agency Task Team targets the individuals and networks that control environmental crime in the region and the illegal trade in wildlife.
Stop Illegal Fishing and FISH-i Africa investigations into illegal fishing in Tanzania show that these are not opportunistic crimes, but form part of a much wider network of transnational organized crimes. The cross agency approach being adopted by the Multi-Agency Task Team in Tanzania will help to address the destructive, illegal and criminal activities that take place in the fisheries sector.
The initiative has been supported by the Indian Ocean Commission’s (IOC) SmartFish Project implemented jointly with the FAO and funded by the European Union. The IOC has focused particularly on the damage and risk of dynamite fishing. Marcel Kroese, Key MCS Expert, IOC-SmartFish Project, commented that investigations have shown that ‘the problem of blast fishing is far more complex than previously expected in Tanzania. The practice is outlawed in all countries in the world due to the damage it causes to marine and lake environments.’
The work of the MATT is showcased in the Animal Planet ‘Ocean Warriors’ series, the episodes in this series show a number of arrests and substantive insight into the individuals and syndicates involved in these crimes. Building on these investigations JD Kotze and Mike Markovina are now putting together a follow up operation through Stop Illegal Fishing, which aims to target all the major blast fishing hot spots in Tanzania and the kingpins behind these crimes. An operation that, combined with a widespread awareness campaign, aims to eliminate blast fishing from Tanzania for good.