Friday, April 19, 2024

Zambia breaches fishing protocol in Lake Kariba


Lake Kariba

Zambia reportedly breached a fishing protocol signed with Zimbabwe by exceeding its fishing quota in Lake Kariba, Environment and Water minister Oppah Muchinguri told Parliament recently.

The 1999 Protocol on Economic and Technical Co-operation sets the agenda for what each country does in the management of fisheries within its jurisdiction on the lake.

Muchinguri told the National Assembly during last week’s question-and-answer session that under Article 6 of the protocol, the number of fishing boats is to be shared according to the area of the lake which each State holds.

However, Zambia allegedly breached the protocol by having too many kapenta fishing boats on the lake compared to Zimbabwe which has a larger stake on Lake Kariba.

“Zimbabwe, which holds 55% of the lake, is entitled to 55% of the total fishing effort [particularly of the kapenta fishery which is a shared stock]. Currently, Zimbabwe has 460 kapenta fishing boats on the lake and Zambia has 962 boats officially declared. This means the current ratio is 32:68 in Zambia’s favour which is against the protocol agreement,” Muchinguri said.

The Environment minister said there were also too many kapenta fishing boats on the lake whereas only 500 boats were sufficient in order for Lake Kariba to have a sustainable fishery.

“With the agreed ration, Zimbabwe is to have 275 rigs and Zambia should have 225.

The current total is pegged at 1 422, meaning there is overcapacity on the lake. Riparian states agreed in the 2013 Bio Economic Working Group Meeting to reduce the number of rigs and/or the number of fishing nights to ensure that the fishery is exploited sustainably.”

She said each riparian State is obliged by the protocol to share information on catch statistics, number of fishing vessels and patrol efforts made to encounter poaching, and also have technical consultations which are information sharing platforms.

“Zimbabwe has to date reduced the total number of fishing nights from 30 days to 23 days a month, a 23% reduction in total fishing effort. This has led to an improvement on the catch statistics, with Basin 5 (Kariba) in 2015 realising an increase from 88kg/rig per night. This proves that effort reduction does result in better returns for the fishers,” Muchinguri said.
Zimbabwe gets 90% of its fish protein from Lake Kariba, with over 50% of this being from kapenta fishing.



  1. @Makadava Mwape
    I agree with you 100%. Someone in the Govt did not do their homework. When a river defines the boundary, the boundary is supposed to be the middle of the river and by extension Lake Kariba should be “split” 50%. and that goes for the Victoria Falls.

    • There are other factors you have not taken into consideration. Agreed that the middle of the river defines the boundary the flooded lake area will still be divided taking into account where the river bed lies! The expanse of flooding is also determined by topography of the bordering land. The middle of the Zambezi River is the reference point of sharing Lake Kariba. Its a pity that fishing controls are too relaxed on the Zambian side placing emphasis on revenue collection than sustainability of the resource.

  2. Lake kariba is a man made dam and it’s one of the largest man made dam in the world.Zimbabwe has a bigger percentage because the lake covered most of its land.

  3. Ask the Congolese to respect fishing protocols on Lake Mweru such as fish ban season. They do whatever they like while poor Zambia watches.

    • To the contrary @ Ndanje khakis, its Zambians that mostly flout the fishing protocols due to lack of seriousness in safeguarding the fish resource and politicization of the fish ban season. Statistics show that there are more Zambian deaths and arrests on Lake Mweru during the ban. One only needs to visit Luapula during the fish ban season to learn how much time the provincial administration spends negotiating for release of Zambian fishermen crossing into Congolese waters and get arrested by the no nonsense Congolese marine police! Like on Lake Kariba there is just too much over fishing in Zambian waters and use of illegal methods depleting the fish population while the marine police surveillance in Congolese waters puts fishing activities in check!

    • FuManchu, I am from Luapula and I know what am talking about. Yes zambians flout the ban but mostly this is caused by political parties. Last year is a good example where our people had vowed not to vote for PF because government was stopping them from fishing in their waters. But overall the big vessels on Lake Mweru are owned by Congolese businessmen.

  4. So what does this mean? If Zimbabweans are broke and fail to qualify their share in terms of boat/ rig percentage we should also reduce our side and play a sevens game?

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