Harare - Zimbabwe has accused its northern neighbour Zambia of exceeding its fishing quota in Lake Kariba, which lies on the border of the two countries.
Fishing in the lake - which straddles over 230km - is a source of livelihood for thousands of people in the two countries.
Zimbabwe’s Environment Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu this week said he was in talks with his Zambian counterpart to address the issue of fishing quotas.
“There are prescribed numbers of rigs that should be on the waters at any given point. We have never surpassed our quota as Zimbabwe. We don’t issue permits beyond our agreed quota,” Minister Ndlovu said.
“Ideally, there should be 500 rigs in total, 250 on either side. But I can assure you that at any given point, on the Zambian side there will be more than double the number on the Zimbabwean side. You will find that our counterparts have two or three times more rigs than our side.
“Because of that there is more breeding on the Zimbabwean side and there has been times where we get to arrest their rigs for encroaching on this side because that is where there is more stock.”
He said the frequency of arrests of Zambian fishermen by Zimbabwean police had increased in recent years.
“These are areas that we continue to engage them as our brothers, siamese twins as it is often called, just to make sure that we bring sanity to this industry and be more scientific in our approach,” Minister Ndlovu said.
Last October, the technical committee on Development and Management of the Fisheries and Aquaculture of Lake Kariba - which comprises senior government officials from both countries - recommended speedy implementation of a 2014 agreement to reduce fishing rigs on the lake to ensure survival of the industry.
According to the committee, Zambia officially has 1,076 rigs while the official number for Zimbabwe is 399.
Zambia agreed to remove 50 rigs from the lake every year while Zimbabwe will reduce its fleet by 13 rigs per year until the 250 limit is attained.
Due to the expansive size of the water body - Kariba is the second largest man-made lake in the world - and the managing authority’s lack of human, technical and financial means, monitoring, control and surveillance are difficult to implement effectively.