Sunday, April 14, 2024

How Zambias fish shortfall is being met


Fingerlings ready for release as FQM’s Trident Foundation helps to restock Musangezhi Dam

Zambia’s fish consumption is currently well below the world average, and constant efforts are being made to combat the country’s shortfall of what is one of the cheapest forms of animal protein.
Figures suggest that the amount of fish served up in Zambia is not even half of what might be considered the world average, with just 7kg consumed per person per year, compared to the global norm of 19kg.
Among those casting the net ever wider in a bid to put more fish on the table are First Quantum Minerals, currently engaged in a restocking programme at the Musangezhi Dam at its Sentinel mine in Kalumbila. Its current venture is aimed at helping the country to meet its fish demand as well as its nutritional needs, bearing in mind that fish is an important source of protein and vitamin D. The mine first released 6,000 fingerlings in 2013 to start the fish populations and then again in 2015 it released a further 30,000.
“There is a national fishing ban in Zambia from December 1, to March 1, to allow fish to breed. We did our big release at the beginning of the fish ban with the request that communities would observe the ban and allow the fish to settle. They did that for the most part. We are about to release another 30,000 fingerlings with the same proviso,” Kalumbila Trident Foundation wildlife and conservation coordinator Dorian Tilbury said.
Zambia’s fish deficit stands at 55,000 metric tonnes, with the country currently producing 80,000 metric tonnes of fish from rivers and lakes, and 20,000 metric tonnes from aquaculture altogether, making 100,000 tonnes in total.
Fish is reported to be the world’s best source of omega-3 fatty acids, considered important for the body and brain. There are 11 health benefits of eating fish supported by research. Furthermore, with over 41 million people worldwide working in fish production, small-scale fisheries and aquaculture clearly make critical contributions to employment.
Mr Tilbury said that FQM’s fish restocking programme has been relatively successful and there has been ample fish available in local markets: “Musangezhi Dam falls partly within the mine site and partly outside. We demarcated the dam and created a fish breeding zone in the south and a utilisation zone in the north. The process was driven by the Department of Fisheries and together with  HRH Senior Chief Musele and local communities, five community zones were identified and fishing committees were established in each of them.”
“The Musele Fishing Committee is the only one that has a dam in its zone – the Musangezhi Dam. Numerous meetings were held in each zone to sensitise the communities and set dates for voting,” he added. “So far there has been no official process on the Chisola dam but we intend to follow the same procedure with it  in 2017 and help to establish the committees.”
Most of the world’s capture fisheries (where fish is harvested) are considered fully or overexploited, according to the World Fish Center, with governments needing to manage the potential ecological and social impacts.
However, Kalumbila Trident Foundation’s Dorian Tilbury emphasised that FQM’s restocking programme is having a very positive effect on communities.
“The fishermen are making money, and it means many people have access to protein. HRH Senior Chief Musele is very supportive of the programme and it has been a positive intervention and livelihood support project for the Musele community. .”
The Musele fishing committee is made up of seven members of which the Chief is the patron, according to Mr Tilbury, and once they were established they worked with the Department of Fisheries and created a set of by-laws to govern fishing rights and access to the dam.
“The Committee issue licences which they try to regulate to avoid over-fishing and give the local communities from the five zones access before they give it to outsiders, but this is not always the case. The committee receives a portion of the licence fee and with this, they have bought themselves bicycles and uniforms for patrolling and law enforcement,” he said.
He added that fishermen are mostly using regulation four-inch nets, line and hooks and fishing baskets. “However, they are not all respecting the boundary and we have apprehended several fishermen laying long nets inside the breeding sanctuary..”
Mr Tilbury said it has not all been plain sailing, adding that the mine faces challenges with people coming inside the breeding sanctuary, but the situation is improving with continued engagement between Foundation staff, the Chief and the committee., “There are also concerns about the safety of fishermen on the water as they are using traditional mokoros and some of them do not know how to swim.” he said.
The World Fish Center also notes that throughout the developing world, the fisheries sector provides the basis for the livelihoods and nutrition of millions of people, and constitutes a significant source of foreign exchange for many developing economies. “Despite its considerable contributions to development, however, it is often not seen as a priority sector by policy-makers or donor agencies, and activities such as aquaculture are frequently seen as relatively low-priority for the allocation of scarce resources such as water,” said a spokesman.
This lack of attention to the sector is particularly problematic given that capture fisheries are currently being fished at capacity, and that further increases in production will have to come from expansion of aquaculture.
The World Fish Center appears to accept that there is an important role for developing country governments to play, both in managing capture fisheries to prevent further stock depletion, and in regulating the development of aquaculture to ensure that it is both environmentally sustainable and pro-poor: “Under such conditions, fisheries and aquaculture can realise their potential as an important and growing source of economic development in rural areas.”


  1. So this Mr Tilbury has come to show us how to fish? This is interesting. Nonetheless l would wish to warn people living in that area that they should take precautions with regards to that fish. This guy Tilbury cannot just offload 6,000 fish fingerings for nothing. These guys don’t just do things without serious calculations, watch out….

    • You buy fingerlings from mwekera and populate your dams. The fish is there but no people to manage the projects. That is why Tilbury is important to Zambia, because he will not only teach you fish farming but also how to eat the fish, if you get my trend…

    • Where you’re found lacking someone sees opportunity and moves in for even mad people exploit the opportunity to occupy unoccupied buildings! Thus Tilbury creates a fishery in a dam from resources provided by First Quantum Minerals to give the communities living around the water body a source livelihood (income generation)! This kind of intervention is not one that the government can fail to implement as home grown if only the Department of Fisheries had the necessary resources now credits have to go to FQM and Tilbury for governments blindness to little but effective interventions that can make huge difference in peoples lives….. this particular one has brought about income to homesteads and protein to all fish consumers!

  2. Well we need to start from some where. Definitely sums do not add up for our mother. If one come to think that 40% of the water system of the entire southern Africa is in Zambia one would expect that the water resource would be mobolised to among other things provide sufficient breeding and production of the fish resources.

  3. The low consumption of fish in Zambia (especially in the urban areas) is not because there is a shortage. Fish is everywhere. It’s the price. For many people in Zambia, food is a luxury. When it should be basic. Of course the few that afford it in abundance cannot understand that for many, conjuring a decent meal is a struggle.

    • How do I buy fish at K22 a kilo when soya chunks are K11 per kilo and last longer?
      Life is rough out here in Lusaka.

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