Illegal fishing rigs a serious problem for Lake Kariba

Illegal fishing rigs are causing serious harm on Lake Kariba, shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe, resulting in dwindling catches in the vast man-made lake, says the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

According to FAO’s assessment of the fishing industry in the lake, a lack of monitoring and surveillance capabilities made it hard to curtail fishing activities of illegal rigs.

“Consequently, this leads to dwindling catches as illegal rigs do not comply with desired sustainable fishing practices.

“Further, the illegal catch on the lake undermines the incomes of licensed rigs as it is sold on the black market, mostly at night. The catch is sold illegally on the lake at night to fishermen in small dug-out canoes who come specifically to buy the illegal catch,” says the assessment report by FAO.

Also read: Stakeholders call for licensing to halt depleting Zambian fish stock

There are about 1 000 registered rigs on the lake. The management system in the two countries is based on a licensing system and the payment of an annual fee for access to the fishing, as well as several technical management measures such as mesh size, zoning, and brief closures based on the lunar calendar.

Operators are also obliged to record and submit data on their catch and fishing activities to management authorities on a monthly basis.

However, the presence of illegal operators has led to poor enforcement of regulations. To mitigate the situation, some large licensed operators have developed their own strategy to fight against the illegal trade by providing their own patrol boats.

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