Aron Mushaukwa Katima Mulilo-The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has confirmed the fishing season has closed in the Zambezi Region as of December 1 and will open again on March 1 next year. This does not however include recreational angling. Speaking to New Era, fisheries public relations officer De Wet Siluka confirmed the fishing season has indeed closed in Zambezi after thorough consultations were held with stakeholders to ensure the stability and sustainability of the fishery resource. Siluka however pointed out that despite that the process to implement the closure, which started a while ago, is in alignment with neighbouring Zambia and Botswana, the process has not fully been implemented by neighbouring countries, particularly Zambia. “The challenge we are facing is that despite the fishing season now being closed on the Zambian side, they are still fishing. This is because our Zambian counterparts do not undertake patrols like we do, so when we are patrolling the Zambians can be seen fishing from the Zambian side, and we cannot do anything to stop them,” said Siluka. He added that given that the period between November and February is a breeding season, when fishing is done in these months the breeding season is disturbed and this contributes to the scarcity of fish, as they are not given time to breed. Siluka urged residents of Zambezi to embrace the decision, and he noted this is to their benefit, as it will improve catches once the moratorium is lifted in March next year. He added that currently they are not facing difficulties, as residents have been cooperative since the moratorium became effective. He however warned that those who will be found fishing during the closed season would be brought to book. “We are always busy with patrols even when the fishing season is open to monitor the situation and the use of illegal, destructive methods. Those who will be found fishing will be charged,” he said. Siluka however revealed that river patrols are currently difficult as the ministry’s patrol boat has broken down and there are no funds to repair it, which compels fisheries inspectors to undertake foot patrols. But despite this moratorium, fish has been scarce in the Zambezi because it has been economically overfished. This dwindling of fish stocks has left fishermen and fish traders, whose livelihoods depend on buying fish from the fishermen to resell it at the Katima Mulilo open market, despondent. Some fishmongers have even resorted to buying fish from Zambia, reportedly from a farmer who has several commercial fish ponds, which has contributed to fish prices escalating in the region.
2017-12-20 09:20:10 9 months ago