Zanzibar. Zanzibar is extending its blue economy aspirations to seafood in a deliberate attempt to grab a share of the business that is growing in leaps and bounds across the world.

A study by Rabobank – a Dutch multinational banking and financial services company – put the global fish and shellfish trade at $153 billion in 2017 and that it is growing steadily.

Some analysts estimate that the global fish and shellfish trade reached $159.31 billion in 2019, and that it could reach about $194 billion by 2027.

In an apparent desire to grab a pie of this growing global business, authorities in Zanzibar are devising strategies with a view to upping the Isles’ role in the global business of seafood.

To begin with, a total of 30,000 people, including investors in the tourism value chain, government officials and ordinary citizens, are converging here next month for a seafood festival.

The festival specifically seeks to showcase Zanzibar’s richness in seafood and how more investments in the area – which goes well in line with President Hussein Ali Mwinyi’s blue economic aspirations – would put the Isles on the right path to raising its seafood harvests and ultimately, increasing exports.

“We have a huge market for our seafood in Asia and Europe. Currently, we sell in small quantities in China; but, with the coming festival, we hope things will improve,” said the Regional Commissioner for Unguja North, Mr Ayoub Mohammed Mahmoud.

Mr Mahmoud, who is organising the festival in partnership with other stakeholders, said the largest exporter in the Isles was only selling about 18 tonnes of seafood a year outside the country.

“This festival is part of implementing the governments’ blue economic model, whose aspirations can be achieved through increasing investments in activities that are closely related to the ocean,” he said.

A total of 30,000 tonnes of seafood are expected to be exhibited and sold at the festival.

Mr Mahmoud was of the view that, by increasing production of seafood, residents of the semi-autonomous Indian Ocean archipelago will have to be trained on modern fishing and marketing techniques.

The manager of the Sunseaban Hotel, Mr Ayoub Ahmed, said the festival has come at the right time when players in the hospitality industry were recovering from the adverse effects of the viral global Covid-19 pandemic.

“Apart from the anticipated investment opportunities in production and transporting of seafood, this festival also gives us other direct benefits, as we will receive visitors who would sleep and eat in our hotels. This will be a boost to us after the global Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

The blue economy concept, which was first highlighted at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012, is defined as “the economic and trade activities that focus on the ocean-based marine environment, associated biodiversity, ecosystems, species, and genetic resources whilst ensuring conservation”.

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