The governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia have resolved to reduce the number of fishing rigs on Lake Kariba in an attempt to boost kapenta fish stocks that have been depleted due to poaching, officials confirmed.
The fishing industry and the attraction of Kariba as a tourist centre drawing professional fishermen from around the world is threatened, according to an official government audit.
“The quantity of kapenta harvested from Lake Kariba has been decreasing every year since 1970, thereby threatening the viability of the industry,” said senior state auditor Mildred Chiri in her latest report on Lake Kariba Research Institute. “In the 1970s one rig could harvest 1 400 kilogrammes of kapenta per night, but currently only 60 kgs per night is being harvested.”
Chiri said the causes for the decrease included “illegal harvesting of kapenta in restricted areas such as river mouths and shallow areas which are breeding places for kapenta”.
“The increase in players increased pressure on the resource over time. Zimbabwe currently has 400 rigs against Zambia’s 1 000 rigs. The research that was done recommended that only 500 rigs should be in the lake for it to be viable,” Chiri said.
She added: “The viability of the kapenta industry is threatened and overfishing was occurring due to increased players in the lake. There is need to adhere to the recommended number of rigs that should optimally operate on the lake. The ratio of rigs between Zambia and Zimbabwe should be observed and each nation should confine itself to its approved boundaries to avoid overfishing through encroachment.”
A Research Institute statement said Zimbabwe and Zambia had recently undertaken a ‘bio-economic survey’ of the lake.
“It was agreed that the optimal number of rigs for Lake Kariba is 500. Therefore Zimbabwe and Zambia will have to reduce the number of rigs operating on the lake. It is envisaged that by 2023, Zimbabwe will have 275 rigs and Zambia will have 225 rigs according to the agreement on fishing effort sharing,” the statement said.
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