The kapenta fishing rigs that are parked on Sekula Island

1. The “fish ban” has absolutely nothing to do with the cholera we have seen in Zambia, and is a completely separate issue that was put in place purely as a fish conservation measure.

2. There is no scientific evidence from anywhere in the world that proves fisheries contribute in any way to the spread of cholera.

3. After many years of having this fish ban in place, it has made no impact at all to the improvement of fisheries in Zambia.

4. Scientific evidence has conclusively shown that multi-species fisheries such as ours here in Zambia are actually negatively affected by such closures. The remedies that work are changing the selectivity of fishing gears and implementing size of fish restrictions, plus restricting entry to the fishery through licencing.

5. The massive unemployment and decreased nutrition created by this measure has already been seen in the economy and nutritional health of our citizens. This hardly makes up for the few cholera cases now being recorded which are in the cities, not the rural areas.

6. Exporters of fish from Zambia are now likely to see their fledgling businesses collapse, and will probably blame government for their losses. International trades in fish are bound by contract, and once broken because of erratic and unreliable supplies, will seriously harm Zambias reputation in the international fish business.

This extension of the fish ban makes no sense at all, and has the capacity to seriously damage the economy, both in the immediate future and in the long term, unless it is immediately rescinded.

A Times of Zambia article from the past-

Every year, all fishery areas in Zambia are closed to fishing from about December 1, to the beginning of March the following year, except for Lake Kariba and Lake Tanganyika. The two are not affected by the annual fishing ban because they are shared water bodies and, therefore, have different management protocols and are mainly the sources of small fish called Kapenta, which is highly migratory. According to the Fisheries Act of the Laws of Zambia, it is an offence to carry out fishing activities or to be in possession of fish during the fishing ban period. My findings show that the affected areas are Kafue River and flood plain fishery, Super Upper Kafue Fishery, Upper Zambezi, Lower Zambezi from the dam wall to the Zambezi-Luangwa confluence. Others are Lukanga Swaps, Bangweulu Fishery and the swamps, Mweru-wa-ntipa, Mweru-Luapula, Lusuwashi and Chambeshi Fishery.
The Government effects the ban which is aimed at avoiding fishing during the breeding season to ensure the replenishing of the fast depleting natural resources. Fishermen practice indiscriminate fishing and sometimes use illegal means like domestic explosives, mosquito nets and traditional fish poison. The use of such methods have led to the depletion of fish stocks, hence the ban on all small scale and commercial fisheries give fish a chance to breed. Some people, however, question whether the ban is for the best and its contribution towards the actual replenishing of the fish to the water bodies and its implication on the country and the consumers in the country.
Vice-President Guy Scott once raised one of these points in Parliament while as an opposition Parliamentarian. Dr Scott said that when he was Agriculture minister, he had asked scientists at the Fisheries Department in Chilanga to quantify the benefits of the fishing ban. According to him the result was that they were unable to say, with any certainty, that there was any gain at all.
Zambia shares some water bodies with Botswana, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but the fishing ban is seemingly only effected on the Zambian side, rendering the exercise irrelevant.

Last year, some fish mongers in Mwandi District of Western Province appealed to Government to review the fishing ban in areas where water is shared with neighbouring countries which have no similar bans. Apart from Zambia, the Zambezi River Basin for instance is shared among seven other countries namely; Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Further, it is reported that most of the fish that is confiscated ends up being sold by the officers who confiscate it. This is notwithstanding the fact that legally, the disposal of the fish is subject to order from the courts.
The confiscated fish may be donated to some hospitals, prisons, schools as well as other community-based entities. Sadly, even some people in possession of dry fish, which could have been caught way before the ban was effected, may lose their fish. The officers do not seem to have any means to determine whether the fish was caught before or after the fishing ban came into effect. Fishing is the main source of livelihood and protein, particularly for people near the water bodies in the country. Some observers, therefore, say other methods of preserving the fish stocks should be considered, especially bearing in mind that, for centuries, our ancestors managed to maintain the fish stocks. As a result of fishing ban, fishermen who depend on fishing, sneak in the night to do their fishing and sell their catch in the early hours of the day to avoid being arrested. At the peak of the ban in 2012, Luapula Province Minister Benson Kapaya found several fishermen fishing while others were found selling their catches. In 2009 the Government through the Department of Fisheries launched 24 marine boats in 24 different community zones which were meant for the supervision and monitoring of fishing during the fishing ban season. Luapula Province kicked-off the launch of the 24 banana boats to ensure the approaching fish ban was effective.

By Adrian Piers

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Why doesn’t our government consult experts when they make decisions that have far reaching repercussions? Those fishermen depend on fishing as a livelihood and if evidence shows that these bans do not make any significant difference then leave them the hell alone!! Lets do things responsibility and make use of the many experts Zambia has who unfortunately are not in government because they are not cadres.

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    • So this fish ban is only effected on the zambian side, while the neighbouring countries continue rampaging on the waters for fish. Then it is a nonsensical measure.

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    • @Maharaj, even street vendors depend on vending but if the environment is conducive to cholera or any disease then measures must be taken to protect people. It’s just common sense.

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    • @NNdanje Khakis from my understanding the fish ban has been instituted annually for several years.The article points out that the ban has a negative impact.Rather than banning fishing the govt should put restrictions on the fish size harvested by changing the fishing gear.I think that sounds progressive. This cholera thing is an excuse.One can easily clean the surroundings and put proper toilet facilities in 24-72 hrs. You do not need a month for that.

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    • Maharaj, I am a person who’s done fishing in the large part of my youth. If you’ve followed my contributions on the subject , I’ve always told people that in the colonial Era there was never a fishing ban. All that the Muzungu did was to effectively patrol the river for the wrong nets and other traps. In addition to this there were parts of the river where fishing was not allowed since these were breeding areas for certain fish. My contention is not with whether the ban is good or bad but with point number 2 by the author.

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    • @Ndanje Khakis I see your point sorry I misunderstood. Indeed I think Ministry of Health Public Health officials and Local government should invest in educating people and providing facilities that would help keep the environment clean. Fisheries do not cause cholera but a filthy unhygienic fishery would certainly be highly susceptible to cholera especially during an outbreak.

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  2. Point number 2 is completely misplaced. It’s not fish which causes cholera, but the environment in which the fishermen and fish traders operate in. Please put your education to the advantage of the nation not to party politics.

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    • “There is no scientific evidence from anywhere in the world that proves fisheries contribute in any way to the spread of cholera.”

      Which part of that did you miss?

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    • “Scott said that when he was Agriculture minister, he had asked scientists at the Fisheries Department in Chilanga to quantify the benefits of the fishing ban. According to him the result was that they were unable to say, with any certainty, that there was any gain at all.”

      Or that?

      Did you actually read the article?

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    • Maybe you haven’t seen my point. …it’s not fish that causes cholera so science doesn’t come in. ..point is cholera is propagated by the unfilthy conditions in fishing camps.. please don’t read with a preconceived answer. If the camps are clean then cholera won’t be there. …fish is innocent.

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    • The same Scott killed hundreds of his pigs and got paid by government on the pretext that he was preventing swine fever. Other farmers were never paid. But of course he makes sense as long as he’s talking against PF.

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  3. “…The remedies that work are changing the selectivity of fishing gears and implementing size of fish restrictions, plus restricting entry to the fishery through licencing….”

    Selective fishing gears ? We are talking poor fishermen here not some rich fishing camps with a variety of equipment ??

    Fishing bans do work in replenishing stocks…..and what you saying about bans affecting the economy is like saying allow indiscriminate charcoal burning and timber logging in the country.

    It’s the bigger picture we look at.

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    • Mr Piers is affected I am sure. He should visit Kashikishi in Luapula for him to appreciate why the ban is necessary.

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  4. The issue is the extende ban owing to the risk of cholera. Ndajne .hase choleta been detected there, has choleta been detected at nkonde has cholera been detected at maiteke, at ndeke (ndola) . No but the potential is there the same as at the fishing areas so by correlation of your statement any where that is possibke for cholera to occur should be under some form of ban. No matter whst your political persuasion your reasoning is illogical
    This is not about the declared annual ban but the exrension of this period for whatever reason. Obviously ndanje ypu will give a pf populist PontiFication

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    • That’s the problem with Zambians always looking at issues with tinted glasses. Didn’t you read of late that someone had died of cholera in Nchelenge which is one of the fishing areas.

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  5. Rainy season is usually the breeding season of fish as high water levels coupled with favorable environmental conditions stimulate most fishes to breed. When fish is captured this time, females full of eggs will be captured, males fish full of milt ‘sperm’ will be captured as well.. furthermore since our fishermen use bad methods of fishing such as mosquito nets and ububa ‘poison’ most of the newly born small fish will be captured or killed.. in addition most tilapia breams incubate eggs and secure young ones in their mouths..fishing during breeding time is double disaster to these fishes.. killing both mothers and their offspring… most fish grow to edible and breeding size at least in three to four months..therefore the fishing ban during the fish breeding season is intended to…

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  6. Cont… to allow fish to produce offspring and the offspring to grow before anyone can attempt to capture them.

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  7. Almost every country in the would puts in place fishing bans to conserve fish stocks. It’s good practice. Start fish farming if you have an issue with it. Then you can sell fish while fishing bans are in place and make extra profits.

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  8. That is why the fish ban has been extended! The big fish farming companies have paid the corrupt cardres in the MoH to say fishing causes cholera!

    Then they can put up prices and make massive profits!

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  9. Guy Scott is a mad old man! The fish ban was not extended as a measure to stop spread of chorela in country, but because chorela had broken out in some fish camps! As simple as that! How difficult is that for opposition to understand?

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  10. Interesting comments referencing the fish ban its effectiveness and probable interventions. Very true that its the unhygienic environmental conditions arising from negligence of fishermen in maintaining some level of health concerns in fishing grounds. However of the probable interventions being suggested it would be encouraging for both the public and the fisheries authorities to engage in discussions on how best to help replenish the dwindling fish stocks. Like any other government institution I am sure the Fisheries Department is facing many challenges that are not privy to the general public that can only be appreciated at a roundtable discussion. During the colonial era and early years being independent operational resources matched with the importance with which policy formulators…

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  11. contd…. attached to natural resources and their conservation. The general public holds the key!

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