Government has urged fishermen in Mazabuka District of Southern Province to adopt sustainable practices aimed at conservation of natural resources.
Mazabuka District Livestock and Fisheries Coordinator Simataa Simataa said fishermen in Mazabuka district should take an active role in the management and conservation of their natural resources.
Speaking during a sensitization meeting of fishermen in Shimungalu fishing camp, Mr Simataa said Government had been facing challenges to conserve and to manage natural resources such as fish without the participation of the fishermen.
He said many approaches had been used in the past to try and manage the natural resources but these approaches did not offer the fishing communities a chance to take part in the conservation process.
Mr Simataa said Government realized that they needed to involve the fishing community in their efforts and came up with Co-management.
“Our natural resources are limited and we need to manage them properly if we are to continue benefiting from them, this means the community members need to guard and protect their fish in the river from people who want to fish with nets that are not allowed such as mosquito nets or individuals who want to fish when the fishing season is closed,” he said.
“You have to give the fish a chance to breed and to grow by using the correct and allowed types of fishing nets such as the three inches cotton fishing net, this net allows the young fish to remain in the water so that they can continue to breed,” he said.
Mr Simataa encouraged the fishermen in Shimungalu fishing camp to adopt sustainable exploitation of natural resources so that even future generations can be able to enjoy the benefits of these natural resources as it is the source of their livelihoods.
And District Fisheries Officer John Kanyama said the department of fisheries is there to work hand in hand with the fishing community so that they can continue benefiting and not to make their lives difficult.
“When the department confiscates fishing nets and burns them it is not because we want you to suffer or maybe we do not like you, we get rid of those nets so that the fish in the Kafue river can be given a chance to survive and to continue to breed,” he said.
“The other reason why we seize the nets is because according to the fisheries act those nets are not allowed, they are the wrong sizes and will remove all the fish from the water and they are non-biodegradable meaning the material they are made of if left in the Kafue river will not break down instead it will continue in the river and cause damage to the fish that is why we burn those mono filament nets or twine nets as they are popularly called,” he said.
Mr Kanyama said the fishermen should make use of their fishing management committee to get guidance and to air out their grievances when they do not know or do not understand why their nets were confiscated.
“In addition we are asking the fishing management committee to be vigilante and to work as a cohesive unit, please avoid confusion and follow the laid down procedures when dealing with problems do not keep other members of the committee in the dark in regards to activities let everyone be included and be on the same page,” he said.
Meanwhile, Livestock Production and Extension Officer Emmanuel Sapanoi encouraged the fishermen to branch out and take up other agriculture activities such as gardening and rearing goats and chickens to supplement the times when they cannot fish.
“The department has several programmes designed to help fishermen to expand their livelihoods at the moment such as the rearing of goats. We have the pass over programme were farmers have been given goats and when these goats breed they can give the young to other farmers and so on,” he said.
“It is not always that fish is available, hence we want the fishermen to have other options, we do not want them to hit rock bottom and be stuck we want them to continue to thrive and be able to look after themselves,” Mr Sapanoi said.