Harare - Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality is set to partner the Zambian Tourism Board to come up with solutions to curb the transboundary fish poaching problem at Lake Kariba.
Zimabwe and Zambia share the border on Lake Kariba.
According to Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority statistics, there has been a great decrease in fish stocks in the lake that needs serious attention.
Reports indicate that poachers have infested the lake with unregistered fishing boats, as there are about 2000 fishing boats and rigs, a number which is much higher than what is allowed for sustainable harvest.
It is believed that in 1998, fish harvests were between 30 000 and 54 000 tonnes and now the lake is only producing a maximum of 7 000 tonnes due to the increasing number of poachers.
Zimparks statistics indicate that although poachers' boats are from both countries, there is need to audit the Zambian fishing quota, amid reports that Zambia has breached the 1999 protocol on economic and technical agenda by exceeding the agreed fishing quota.
Zimbabwean Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira said the increasing rate of fish poachers was a serious issue that needed attention not only from Zimbabwe, but Zambia as well, since the lake feeds into both countries.
“The challenges we are facing at Lake Kariba requires Zimbabwe and Zambia’s attention for a speedy resolution.
“Our countries are working together at the moment, to deal with wildlife issues, and fisheries are part of wildlife. We are in good talking terms with my Zambian colleague, and we are prepared to deal with issues like these together.
“We always find solutions together. When there were problems in Victoria Falls, we set down and came up with solutions and we can always do the same now.
“We are going to have an environment meeting soon with my Zambian counterparts to understand issues surrounding this matter and come up with solutions,” Mupfumira said.
She emphasized that the two responsible governments would come up with concerted efforts to resolve the matter, and urged all responsible authorities to take action and work hand in hand with governments from both countries to make sure that no illegal boats fished from Lake Kariba.
“Let us work together and make sure that every boat that operates within Lake Kariba is licenced and before one gets a fishing licence, it should be a priority to make sure they produce their boat licence first.
“This will help in terms of ensuring that the number of boats and rigs in the lake is regulated and it will help us to curtail abuse of permits,” she said.
Zimbabwe holds 55% of the Lake Kariba, and is entitled to 55% fishing rights while Zambia holds the remaining 45%.
Officially Zimbabwe has 500 boats and rigs at the lake, and Zambia has 900. However, reports are indicating that Zambia has more than 1 600 boats and Zimbabwe has also exceeded the 500.