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.