Dynamite Fishing Dar es Salaam

Posted on July 13, 2015


Dynamite fishing is big business here. Despite the authorities knowing about this issue, there appears to be little done to stop or mitigate against this activity. The fishermen, I am told, are all “protected” by well connected boat people.  
I wasn’t going to be able to do a proper story on this without causing some waves and potentially putting myself at risk of jail or worse. Dar es Salaam is a city that has edge. More so I feel than most of the African cities I have visited. It is also operates on “small world” mentality where everyone knows everyone else’s business. In the last three days I have bumped into the same people over and over.

I am staying with the Danish Gemstone Hunter….more on him later. Today is my last day in Tanzania and I was determined to see if I could see the effects and damage that dynamite fishing is having on marine life and the reef. I was also very curious to experience diving in these conditions.

The dive school I signed up with told me that within an hour is it possible to hear up to 15 or more explosions within an hour while submerged. One instructor has been off sick from ringing in his ears as a result of too much exposure.

This morning I wriggled into my 5mm wet suit and rigged up my gear. I bounced from the dingy into the speed boat and we were away. Thirty five minutes later I was backward-rolling into the dark cool water in Dar, our dive site, Octopus Wall.

As I descended my heart started to race. The visibility was murky. This was not the crystal blue clearness of Pemba. We dropped….10m…..20m…..30m….35m. Two divers were completing their Advance qualification and needed to do a deep dive. Myself and the other Dive Masters hovered patiently. Then we started to drift up the wall.

I had been told by lots of people not to expect much from the diving in Dar, so I was expecting the worse. The visibility in the water was a little better at depth. Ten minutes into the dive there was a kinda faint hiss and pop. But it was too far away. My dive instructor signalled to me, this was dynamite. 

The seabed looks like an empty furniture showroom. Some very large scale and impressive pieces of coral positioned along the sandy bed – almost like statement pieces. There is no way near the same aquatic life here as there is in Pemba and I was warned about that.

Manta wall is another site where the dynamite has taken chunks out of the wall. There are craters. 

It is so sad to see this type of human destruction because it is so unnecessary and in less than no time fisherman here will have killed off the trade that feeds them.