An inland fisheries project christened Ecofish was recently launched at Rundu by deputy fisheries minister Sylvia Makgone.
The project is being implemented by the Namibia Nature Foundation under the auspices of the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) secretariat and is being funded by the European Union delegation to Mauritius and Seychelles.
The project plans to strengthen community fisheries management in the Kaza region through ecosystem-based adaptation and enhancing the socio-ecological resilience of communities.
In addition, the project also aims to restore the fisheries to an extent that local people who live near the river are custodians of these important resources and can reasonably catch fish for trading purposes and for human consumption.
Launching the project, Makgone said the inclusion of locals and traditional authorities is imperative for the successful implementation of the project in the Kavango-Zambezi trans-frontier.
“The approach of including local communities in the management of reserves is in line with our mandate as a ministry responsible for fisheries under the inland fisheries resources act.
By doing this local community can take part in the decision-making process when developing management plans in the fisheries protected areas,” she said.
According to the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), sanctuaries are identified by local communities, for which restrictions are put in place and are enforced by community fish guards. These areas are co-managed and legally recognised by the government. Currently, the ministry of fisheries has gazetted 10 fisheries reserves in the Zambezi region and there are plans to gazette more in the Kavango East region, according to the deputy minister.
Makgone also indicated that she was concerned about the fact that fishing resources in the inland water bodies had drastically reduced and singled out climate change and human activities as the main contributing factors.
“That is why we have to build climate change resilience to strengthen the fisheries management so that we enhance ecosystem biodiversity.
This will be in line with the Harambe Prosperity plan II,” Makgone added. She further urged the traditional leaders in the Kavango and Zambezi regions to guard these fisheries resources jealously and to ensure that communities adhere to the regulations governing the fishing resources.
Makgone believes that this will benefit the future generation. Kavango East governor Bonifatius Wakudumo welcomed the project and urged NNF to capacitate the fishermen and women in the targeted regions to ensure sustainable employment opportunities in the fishery sector. The project is expected to run for 3 years.