Zambian Livestock and Fisheries Minister Michael Katambo on Wednesday announced a ban on the import of locally grown species, despite the prevailing fish deficit of 40 000 tons per year.
“We will only allow the importation of exotic fishes that are not found in Zambian water bodies,” Katambo said.
Katambo said the decision is consistent with the plan to make Zambia a net fish exporter by 2019. Zambia, like many other developing countries, see the fishing industry as an important part of the domestic economy and to help ensure food security.
However, the ban raised some concerns in the industry.
“Diversity of species, local and exotic, is key to improving production, especially in areas where there is depletion of stocks,” said an aqua farmer who asked to remain anonymous.
He said the annual three-month long ban is not enough to address historical overfishing, hence the need for imports of local and exotic fish.
Lake Bangweulu, Mweru-wa-ntipa, Mweru-Luapula, Lukanga Swamps, Lusuwashi, Lower Zambezi and Chambeshi are closed for fishing from December 1 to the beginning of March. Lake Kariba and Lake Tanganyika are excluded.
In efforts to boost production, Zambia recently secured a US$50 million loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to encourage fish farming.
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