Populations of sea turtles and dugongs have been declining on a global scale over the past few decades. In Tanzania, exploitation of sea turtles and dugongs for meat is commonplace, gillnets pose a serious threat in inshore waters and plastic pollution poses a risk to foraging and nesting individuals. Coastal development has caused the loss of sea turtle nesting sites and coral mining and mangrove harvesting are having considerable impact on critical marine habitats. Although sea turtles, dugongs, whale sharks and dolphins are protected by national fisheries legislation (2003 Fisheries Act and 2009 Fisheries Regulations), law enforcement efforts are inadequate.
Historically, one of the biggest threats to the marine ecosystem and fisheries based livelihoods in Tanzania has been blast fishing, the act of using explosives to kill or stun large schools of fish for easy collection. Blast fishing is indiscriminate, killing many marine species with each blast. Although illegal and highly dangerous, blast fishing persisted along much of the Tanzanian coast for many years. It is highly destructive and the long term effects are considerable, both environmentally and socio-economically. Poor licensing, distribution and management of explosive materials meant that dynamite was readily available and affordable. Thankfully, since 2018, there has been a dramatic reduction in blast fishing, thanks to greater political will to address this issue.