Fisheries and Livestock Minister Nkandu Luo says the fishing ban on rivers and lakes in the country can only succeed if traditional leaders fully participate in enforcing the ban.
Professor Luo says without the active participation of traditional leaders in the conservation of water bodies and fish stocks, the implementation of the seasonal fishing ban will not yield the intended purpose.
Professor Luo says if the country continues with the current illegal fishing methods, Zambia risks depleting all its fish stocks in all the major fishery bodies in the next 10 years.
‘When we crop all the fish out of water bodies, we are destroying all the eggs that are supposed to hatch into fish for future generations’ Luo lamented.
Speaking in Samfya district when she addressed more than 17 chiefs in Luapula province whose chiefdoms share the fishery resources, Professor Luo says for any development that involves community participation to succeed, the involvement of traditional leaders is key.
Professor says Luapula province holds the largest number of water bodies in the country such as the lake Bangweulu, lake Mweru and the Luapula river that provide livelihoods for many people in the province and beyond.
‘We need to preserve the fisheries resources because the wealth of this province is in the fisheries sector. Copper is a diminishing asset and requires a lot of investment but fish is a multiplying asset requiring a minimal investment’ she said.
Professor Luo says the fishing ban imposed on selected fishery bodies from the 1st of December to the end of February is not meant to punish people but to allow fish to breed as this is the peak breeding period.
She says her ministry is working on alternatives livelihoods to help the fishers during the annual fishing ban.
‘Government through my ministry will empower people through livestock stocking and restocking programmes and also with fingerlings for aquaculture production under the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project (ZAEDP)’ She said.
Professor LUO says government with the engagement of the house of chiefs will in April next year begin sensitization programmes on the importance of observing the annual fishing ban.
And giving a vote of thanks on behalf of the Luapula province chiefs’ council, Senior Chief Puta of Chiengi says there is need to restore the wealth of the province through sustainable fisheries management.
Chief Puta says Lupaula was the one of the wealthiest provinces at independence as the province was the major supplier of fish to the Copperbelt province and the rest of the country.
The Chief says fishing still remains the major livelihood but this has been negatively affected due to poor fish catches.
‘There is alarming depletion of fish stocks in our rivers and lakes due to bad fishing methods and not allowing the fish to breed’ He said.
Chief Puta says there is need to clean up the rivers and lakes by chaining all boats on the waters during the ban.
He says fines must also be stiffened on all offenders and government should strengthen the ban on importation and sale of net sizes less than 2 millimeters.
The chiefs assured the government that they will take leadership in the co- management of the capture fisheries through the formation of Village Management Communities and implementation of fisheries regulations.