OVER the years, fish production at Lake Kariba and the Zambezi River has been on the decline.
This caused by the lake’s ecosystem which is sensitive to volatile environmental conditions, such as droughts.
Lack of an effective management system has directly affected the livelihoods of small scale fisheries in the area.
Given the vital socio-economic importance of the fisheries of Lake Kariba, it can be noted that there is need to enhance the resilience in sustainability of small-scale fisheries.
It is against this background the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Ministry launched a two-year technical co-operation programme.
The aim of the programme is to enhance community resilience and sustainability of small-scale fisheries of Lake Kariba and the Zambezi River.
Speaking during the launch of the programme, Environment Ministry Permanent Secretary Munesu Munodawafa said the project would contribute towards sustainable development and economic development.
“This project is very important in that it will address poverty reduction right at the grassroots through the concept of local economic development wherein local people’s participation and convergence of efforts will be made to happen,” he said.
Under the programme strategic stakeholders in the fisheries sector will facilitate the resuscitation of co-management structures and other activities that enhance resilience of small scale farmers.
FAO deputy representative to Zimbabwe Louis Muhigirwa said the project would take a co-management approach to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of management processes, with enhanced fishing community participation.
“Small-scale fisheries, globally, face many challenges that render them vulnerable to climatic and socio-economic changes,” he said.
“Enhancing sustainability of small scale fisheries is necessary for improving fisheries management and also improving availability of fish for food security and economic growth.”
The project is expected to involve the small-scale fishers in an evaluation of the constraints and difficulties encountered in the functioning of previous associative initiatives, and assist in planning the way forward.
In Kariba, Gache Gache Fishers Association chairperson Tichaona Manzungu said:” As fishermen, we should embrace the co-management niche of this project which will ultimately improve our livelihoods through our small scale fishing endeavours, especially in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Under the project, base line survey to understand the status and challenges in the small scale fisheries in Lake Kariba was carried out.
According to FAO, under the project, the co-management structures would be resuscitated before technical training programmes on fish-handling, fish hygiene and marketing are rolled out.
A project management plan is going to be developed, embracing the concerns raised by the fishers and the leadership of the area.
A package of activities are lined up for the next two years to address a number of important components that contribute input to a fisheries management based on the ecosystem approach to fisheries in Lake Kariba and Zambezi River.
Zimbabwe holds 60 percent of all dammed water in the Southern African region and has favourable climatic conditions for fish farming.
Globally, production from aquaculture has overtaken harvesting of wild fish stocks.
In Africa, this business is growing at an average annual rate of 10 percent.
According to the Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development Ministry, the country has 11 000 established small-scale fish farmers.
These farmers raise fish commercially in tanks or enclosures such as fishponds, usually for food.
It is the principal form of aquaculture.
In 2014, the country’s total fish production was estimated at 10 600 tonnes.
Much of the production were Nile tilapia raised in floating cages on Lake Kariba, operated by the Lake Harvest Company, one of the leading private aquaculture firms in Africa.
FAO calculates that in Zimbabwe,
4 000 people work in aquaculture, with nearly 44 000 employed in inland fisheries.