The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE and Zambia are working together in a bid to regulate fishing rigs on the largest water body, Lake Kariba, to try and replenish Kapenta stocks.
This comes as a measure to reduce over-fishing and improve fisheries management on Lake Kariba as part of efforts to promote the conservation and sustainable use of resources on the world’s largest man-made lake and reservoir by volume, following the decline in fish catches including Kapenta.
Responding to questions from the Sunday News, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development’s acting deputy director Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Mr Milton Makumbe said Kapenta introduction will boost the fish production capacity of the country.
“Collaborations with Zambia are underway to aid in regulation of fishing rigs on the largest body of water in the country, Lake Kariba, to try and replenish Kapenta stocks on the lake. Assessments on other large water bodies are in place in preparation of Kapenta introductions to boost the fish production capacity of the country,” said Mr Makumbe.
He said the ministry was also trying to address low capture fisheries production in main water bodies where dam stocking under the Presidential Community Fisheries Scheme has begun.
Mr Makumbe said fish stocking in dams around the country was aimed at boosting the community capture fisheries production, where community training in sustainable harvest is part of the package and dam committees are put in place to safeguard the stock.
In terms of addressing some of the challenges affecting players in the fish industry around the country, he said:
“One of the biggest challenges faced by players in the fish-farming industry has been high production costs, attributed to fish feed. The ministry in this regard is lobbying for duty exemptions on fish feed and/ or ingredients.”
Mr Makumbe said the aim of Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development is to provide a platform that allows ease of doing business and present a conducive environment for high productivity.
He said with an annual national demand of 30 000 tonnes of fish and the deficit standing at 16 000 tonnes, there was need for intervention programmes well suited for industrial growth and productivity.
Mr Makumbe said the Cage Fisheries Programme under the Presidential Community Fisheries Scheme intends to support fish farmers by providing fingerlings and feed to aid in jump-starting the aquaculture sector.
Meanwhile, the future sustainability of the Kapenta fishing industry in Lake Kariba is hanging in the balance following a 400 percent decline last year in catches and high operational costs from a peak recorded in 1999.