One year ago, I went to a local fish restaurant with some fellow students and I ordered “Victoria Perch”, a speciality from my girlfriend’s home country, Tanzania. Afterwards, I proudly told her about it, and I was sure in doing something good while supporting Tanzania’s export. But she became furious, and after a discussion, we watched the film “Darwin’s Nightmare”, which deals with the fishing industry around Lake Victoria.
As I was watching this film I became aware that I did not only support the economy of Tanzania, but also civil war in Congo and smuggling of arms, unscrupulous fish factory owners and exploitation of workers, pollution of Lake Victoria and extinction of native fish species, prostitution and spreading of AIDS etc.
I could go on with further social and environmental impacts.
It is a vicious circle and an ethical decision: Like in other comparable examples before we have the situation of the peoples’ total dependencies to an industry in terms of their livelihood.
Is the only solution in this case a boycott of “Victoria Perch”? Or would not a decrease of consumers’ demand aggravate the poverty in one of the world’s poorest countries? What can Tanzania’s government do about it? How can non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) help?
Plenty of questions to a multifaceted problem!
It is impossible to regain the state of origin. All that can be done are measures to diminish the suffering, e.g. by giving the workers more rights and better payment, by involving organisations and the church into the issues of orphans and prostitution, by disposing industrial waste properly, by fighting crime like smuggling.
Another big problem is the danger that Lake Victoria could capsize within the next 50 – 100 years caused by humans’ intervention into Mother Nature. Thus, the government should think about a way out of this dilemma by settling new industries in this area to intercept the millions of people dependent on the lake. However, it is visible that the Tanzania’s government is not ready yet to take the right measures. This is made clear by the comment made by J. Kikwete, President of Tanzania: “The documentary is an insult to our country and the people of the lake zone as it does not depict the true nature of the business.”
As you can see it is a hard long road out of this dilemma.