MUYAKO – Nine foreign nationals, two Angolan and seven Zambians were arrested at Lake Liambezi on Tuesday in a joint security operation spearheaded by the Namibian Police.
The operation at Muyako some 60km east of katima Mulilo also involved officials of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and members of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF), the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, as well as immigration officials. One Namibian national was arrested for employing a foreign fisherman without acquiring the necessary fishing permit. The foreign nationals were caught red-handed while fishing in Namibian waters without the necessary permits. The operation targetted not only illegal fishermen, but also poachers in the Zambezi Region. In recent months poachers slaughetered several elephants in the region. A large team of the Namibian Police, as well as officers of the Special Field Force Department (SFFD) drawn from different regions is currently deployed in the Zambezi region to conduct the operation which involves both boat and air patrols.
The head of the operation, Deputy Commissioner Simeon Ashuulu said he is satisfied that the operation has yielded positive results. “The operation started as from the 9th of August and this is the first phase which will run until February next year. We have recorded many successes so far and the culprits are already in police custody. Poachers these days tend to hide as fishermen and we are doing everything possible to bring these people to book,” explained Ashuulu. According to him the operation has targeted the Zambezi Region given the unprecedented incidents of poaching and illegal fishing activities. “We are conducting this operation in the Zambezi Region because so many cases of poaching and illegal fishing continue to unfold. We are targeting game parks and conservancies to try and curb the killing of animals,” Ashuulu said.
According to him during their patrols particularly with the NDF helicopter, several foreign illegal fishermen, were found camped on small islands that are dotted all over the lake by erecting makeshift shelters with large consignments of both dried and fresh fish. The foreign illegal fishermen are likely to be deported after they have been served with warnings. Meanwhile, a member of the Village Development Committee (VDC) at Muyako, Charles Simasiku said the problem of illegal fishermen is exacerbated by the lack of cooperation between community leaders and residents. “Us as the VDC we have tried to cooperate with law enforcement agencies so that we can conserve our resources. The problem is with people in villages who continue to employ foreign nationals. The leaders themselves also do not cooperate,” complained Simasiku.
Lake Liambezi has become a hotbed of illegal fishing in recent years with many foreigners mainly from Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola entering Namibia under the pretext of visiting only to engage in illegal fishing. This is said to have placed pressure on the available fish stocks, particularly in the inland lake renowned for its abundant fish resources. Local fish, mostly Tilapia and Tiger fish is also said to have lucrative markets, in places such as Kasumbalesu, a border town located between the DRC and Zambia where demand for Namibian fish is very high.