By OLIVER SAMBOKO
ZAMBIA has reduced the number of fishing rigs operating on the international waters of Lake Kariba in line with the recommendations by stakeholders to restore sanity and stop illegal activities on the shared man-made water reservoir.
Under the maritime laws agreed to by Zimbabwe and Zambia in 1999, Zimbabwean fishermen are supposed to have 55 percent of the number of fishing rigs on the lake, while the remaining 45 percent is reserved for Zambia.
However, the number of rigs on the Zambian side have been increasing to unmanageable levels resulting in the depletion of fish and reduced catches.
According to the meeting held last week between Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and the fishermen, only 250 Kapenta rigs will be allowed to operate on the lake and also unlicensed rigs have been banned from entering the international waters until they obtain licences.
Many stakeholders have been calling on Government to resolve the issue of overfishing on the Zambian side where there is no proper monitoring of fishing activities due to underfunding for marine patrols which has led to increased cases of illegal fishing.
But the Small Scale Fish Farmers Association (SSFFA) has opposed the move saying the development will lead to loss of more than 480 jobs in the sector already affected by the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
SSFFA chairperson Victor Chatilika said instead of reducing the number of rigs, Government should instead boost manpower in the Department of Fisheries and provide enough resources to enable officers stop the illegal activities on the shared man-made reservoir.