MANAGING FISHERIES SUSTAINABLY AT LAKE KARIBA
ACCORDING to the Commercial Fishing Industry — Global Market Outlook, the global commercial fishing industry market accounted for US$240,99 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $438,59 billion by 2026.
The expanding demand for a variety of seafood, and increasing awareness about its health benefits are said to be the major factors stimulating the commercial fishing industry market.
However, there are a number of harmful effects caused by commercial fishing, such as the exhaustion of marine resources and Zimbabwe is one of the countries where a significant rise has been noted.
Commercially, fishing in a sustainable way is something that has not been fully inculcated in individuals and companies involved in fisheries in Zimbabwe, particularly at Lake Kariba.
For the uninitiated, Lake Kariba is a man-made lake shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe formed in 1958 by damming the Zambezi River.
On the Zimbabwean side, the lake is divided into five hydrological basins; Basin 1 (Mlibizi), Basin 2 (Binga), Basin 3 (Sengwa), Basin 4 (Bumi/Chalala) and Basin 5 (Sanyati).
These are according to the rivers that flow into Lake Kariba.
On the Zambian side, it is divided into four strata.
Zimbabwe has 55 percent lake surface ratio, while Zambia has 45 percent.
Both sides have commercial entities involved in fisheries at the lake.
In some instances, this has led to the depletion of the resource and practice of environmentally unsustainable fishing methods.
In the wake of climate change, which affects water levels and productivity of fisheries, diversifying out of fisheries to reduce dependency is encouraged.
Fishermen must engage in other livelihood activities like aquaculture and crop farming to reduce dependency on capture fisheries.
Value addition is another option as people can focus on post-harvest processes. Value can be added to fish and fishery products according to the requirements of the different markets.
ZimParks’ Lake Kariba Fisheries Research Institute (LKFRI) is responsible for research, regulation and administration of permits in Lake Kariba.
The lake supports a commercial kapenta fishery, small-scale artisanal (gillnet) fishery and aquaculture in both countries and access into any of the fisheries is through a permit.
At the moment, the kapenta and gillnet fisheries are fully subscribed; no new permits will be issued for any of the two fisheries to ensure the sustainability of the fisheries and availability for future generations.
As for the kapenta industry, all lake basins have reached their carrying capacities.
For the purposes of conservation, no basin transfers will be permitted.
Temporary basin transfers may only be considered for Basins 1 and 2 where the section of the lake is riverine and seriously affected when lake levels recede.
Encroachment of basins and fishing in breeding areas are offences that violate fishing permit conditions, those that commit the offences are liable to prosecution.
For Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe to realise maximum economic contribution from the kapenta industry, bio-economic studies recommended a maximum of 500 rigs (275 in Zimbabwe and 225 in Zambia).
Currently Zambia has the highest fishing effort in terms of the number of rigs.
No construction of rigs should be done without approval from ZimParks as there is a limit to the number of rigs the lake can support.
There is a moratorium on construction of rigs and issuance of new fishing permits both in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The gillnet fishery is exploited by communities along the lake shore — made up of fishing camps and fishing villages.
Each community has a designated fishing ground. Fishing camps are not for permanent residence, they are designated as places of work.
The only people expected to be found in the fishing camps are co-operative members for co-operatives registered with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises, and have ZimParks identity cards.
Illegal settlers and fishers are liable to prosecution. Only those with permits issued by the Nyaminyami and Binga Rural District Councils (RDCs) are expected to be found in fishing villages.
Fishing villages are co-managed by ZimParks and RDCs, as ZimParks issues block permits to them.
For purposes of ensuring sustainability of the fishery, each gillnet fisher is limited to four nets of 100m in length.
Use of monofilament nets is prohibited in all water bodies in Zimbabwe.
Tinashe Farawo is ZimParks spokesperson.