The Kapenta fish operators from Sinazongwe have bemoaned that the industry is collapsing owing to high number of illegal fishing vessels being thrown on the Lake Kariba .
Maaze Holdings Director Johann Jordan said there are about 1000 vessels for catching Kapenta on the Zambian side of Lake Kariba while the Fisheries department has issued about 715 licences.
Mr Jordan pointed out that the Kapenta industry which is the largest employer of people from Siavonga to Sinazongwe district in Southern Province is threatened.
He said the stocks of kapenta on the Lake is depleting because people were throwing their vessels on the lake without licences and there is no control from the Fisheries department.
Mr Jordan disclosed that people were fishing anyhow in the breeding areas and the Kapenta catches have drastically reduced.
He said the poor people would be affected once the price of kapenta was increased because of its scarcity.
The Maaze holding Director who has been in the Kapenta industry for so many years said some people with illegal fishing vessels were allegedly stealing Kapenta from other people’s vessels.
He said the fisheries department charged with the responsibility of preserving the fishing stocks were not conducting patrols on the lake adding that previously they were conducting them together with Kapenta operators but they have stopped.
“There is no control in the Kapenta industry, people are fishing any in the breeding areas and there are no road blocks to curb the theft,” Mr Jordan said.
He explained that according to the Southern African Development Community’ (SADC) protocol, Kapenta operators are supposed to be producing 50000 tones of kapenta per year for sustainability of the species.
He said at the time of signing the protocol the Zambians had about 230 vessels for catching Kapenta while Zimbabwe had 260.
It was also agreed that to increase the number of vessels on the lake a study had to be conducted to ensure the sustainability of the industry.
LakaFish Director John Hutchison said the SADC protocol also indicated that only 500 vessels were to be allowed on Lake Kariba for the industry to be sustainable but that limit has been abandoned and people own illegal fishing vessels.
Mr Hutchison said they were worried because once people lose their jobs their families and dependants would be affected.
He said he suspects there is some political influence attached to the increase of fishing vessels on the lake which is threatening the sustainability of kapenta stocks.
The Lakafish Director who has been fishing for over 18 years said the department of fisheries should release information concerning their study of the Kapenta stocks on the Lake which has allowed them to issue so many licences to the Kapenta operators.
Mr Hutchison said he was not worried about the number of vessels on the lake as long as it is based on the study and the system is sustainable.
Another Kapenta Operator Dodo Sindaza said the influx of Kapenta fishing vessels should be controlled.
Mr Sindaza called for coordination among the fisheries department and the Marine department under the Ministry of Transport and Communication to ensure that sanity was brought to the Kapenta industry in the valley.
He said most people have found it easy to enter the Kapenta industry without following the right procedures which is threatening the industry.