The Department of Fisheries in Luapula Province has confiscated over 1000 Kilograms of fresh fish and over two tonnes of dry fish in the on-going enforcement of the fishing ban in the area.
Provincial Fisheries and Livestock Coordinator, Joseph Chiti says 46 people have also been arrested for fishing and trading in fish during the fishing ban period.
Mr Chiti said out of the total number of those who have been arrested 13 males and five females have been convicted, while eight have been fined who include three males and five females.
He disclosed in an interview with ZANIS that 21 boats and 238 fishing nets have also been confiscated from those who were found illegally fishing in Lake Bangweulu and Mweru respectively.
Mr Chitii further said two vehicles and five bicycles which were used to carry fish have also been impounded by a team of officers who were conducting patrols in check points and other entry and exit points in the province.
He expressed concern with the low compliance levels by fishermen and women during this year’s fish ban as they have continued fishing and transporting it to different parts of the province.
Mr Chiti added that the Department of Fisheries will continue to enforce the law as it is the only way to give chance to fish in the natural water bodies to breed.
He has urged fishermen to use the fishing ban to venture in agriculture activities as opposed to engaging in illegal fishing.
Meanwhile, A 32 year old man of Samfya has been fined K6, 000 in default 12 months imprisonment with hard labor for unlawful possession of fish during the fishing ban period contrary to section 60 (a) and (b) of the fisheries act.
Before Magistrate Mapoma Mtonga were Beston Mulapwa 32 and Kelvin Chupa 34 both of Mansa in Chief Matanda’s area in Luapula Province.
ZANIS reports that facts before the court were that on December 23, 2022, Mulapwa and Chupa jointly and whilst acting together did possess 368 kilograms of dry fish which was obtained in contravention of the fisheries act during the prohibited period of fishing.
The court heard that on December 23, 2022 around 07:00 hours Police officers in Samfya conducted a routine traffic patrol along Musaila-Serenje road.
They came across a Toyota Spacio registration number AUB 2077 which had only two people a driver and passenger on board and discovered that it was loaded with dry fish.
The duo were apprehended and later taken to Samfya Police Station and thereafter Police officers seized the fish while the vehicle was impounded.
When the matter came up for trial before Magistrate Mtonga, Mulapwa pleaded guilty of the offense while Chupa pleaded not guilty saying the fish did not belong to him as he was just hired by Mulapwa to transport the fish.
In mitigation, Mulapwa pleaded for lenience saying he is married with children.
In passing judgement, Magistrate Mtonga said he is being lenient on the accused by fining him K6, 000 in default to 12 months imprisonment with hard labor.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Mtonga has since adjourned the matter to January15, 2023 for Chupa’s continuation of trial while Mulapwa is still in custody.