Zambezi to lift fishing moratorium tomorrow

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-The fishing season which closed in the Zambezi Region as of December last year to ensure the stability and sustainability of the fishery resource will reopen on March 1.

Fish has been scarce in the Zambezi because various of its rivers and lakes have been economically overfished at times by boatloads of foreign fishermen.

This dwindling of fish stocks has left fishermen and fish traders, whose livelihoods depend on buying fish from the fishermen to resell at the Katima Mulilo open market, despondent.

Some fishmongers have even resorted to buying fish from Zambia, reportedly from a farmer who has several commercial fish ponds, which has contributed to fish prices escalating in the region.
The period between November and February is considered as a breeding season by the government to avoid a scarcity of fish and allow them time to breed.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in December confirmed the fishing season had closed in the region as of December 1 and would reopen on March 1. This does not however include recreational angling.

Speaking to New Era on Monday, Zambezi Governor Lawrence Sampofu said the fishing season will be open to the public to sustain their livelihoods since the region heavily depends on fish as its source of relish.

“The fishing moratorium is from the 1st of December until the 28th of February. It will be opened on the 1st of March and then the markets will also be open to sell fish. Currently it’s closed, no one is allowed to fish,” he noted.

Although, the fishing moratorium will be lifted, many residents including those from neighbouring counties such as DRC and Zambia will not enjoy the benefits as always, since the famous Lake Liyambezi, which is normally rich in fish resources, has dried up.

“Lake Liyambezi is empty. It’s dry, there is no water. There is no fish. At the moment, people are ploughing there. Since there are floods, we hope the water will flow into the lake and bring back the fish,” Sampofu said.
Sampofu urged all fishermen to adhere to the law and acquire fishing permits once the moratorium is lifted.

He warned that failure to comply with the law, anyone found fishing illegally would be brought to book.
The fisheries ministry said the challenge they face is that despite the fishing season being closed on the Zambian side, people are still fishing there.

This, the ministry said, is because their Zambian counterparts do not undertake patrols like Namibia does, so when Namibian fishing inspectors patrol, the Zambians can be seen fishing on the Zambian side, and they cannot do anything to stop them.

Sampofu said the fisheries inspectors have confiscated many illegal fishing nets, which were then destroyed.
“Some of these nets were burned and some are still being held at the fisheries offices in Katima Mulilo. People were not arrested, they were just warned,” he said.

He urged residents to abide by the law and get fishing permits from their local councillors.
Fisheries public relations officer De Wet Siluka had urged residents of Zambezi to embrace the moratorium, noting that this is to their benefit, as it would improve catches once the moratorium is
lifted.

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