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Research Unit

Mandate of the Central Fisheries Research Institute (CFRI)

The Central Fisheries Research Institute is an institute of the Department of Fisheries tasked with the responsibility of conducting research and collection of fisheries data in all the fisheries of Zambia. The Central Fisheries Research Institute supervises and coordinates research and is supported by fisheries research stations on the major Zambian lakes; lakes namely: Bangweulu, Itezhi-tezhi, Kariba, Mweru-Wantipa, Mweru-Luapula and Tanganyika and rivers Kafue and Zambezi.

These research activities are aimed at understanding the functions of the fishery ecosystems and assessing the fish abundance and yields necessary for the sustainable management and development of the fisheries in Zambia

Research Activities

The Central Fisheries Research Institute conducts research in fishery limnology, fish stock assessment, fish post-harvest and fishing gear. In addition the Central Fisheries Research Institute compiles and analyses fish catch and effort data, market statistics and frame surveys data.  On the other hand, the institute has a fish museum and library.

In this regard, the Central Fisheries Research Institute consists of the following sections:

  1. Limnology
  2. Fish stock assessment
  3. Fishing gear
  4. Post-harvest
  5. Museum
  6. Library


  1. Fishery Limnology

The fishery limnology component studies the functioning of the fishery ecosystems related to the physical and chemical parameters important for the life of aquatic organisms. Some of the parameters are: dissolved oxygen, conductivity, water temperature, nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrates, zooplankton and phytoplankton. The limnology component also deals with matters related to water quality. The Central Fisheries Research Institute has a fishery limnology laboratory that conducts studies on the above components.

  1. Fish Stock Assessments

The stock assessment component carries out studies of estimation of fish abundance, biology and species composition in the fishery areas. For example, estimation of seasonal fluctuations and trends in fish abundance of exploited fish species, life histories and growth rates are derived from fish stock assessment studies. Echo sounding studies have been used in other lakes to estimate fish biomass fisheries

  1. Fishing Gear Technology

The fishing gear section is specialized in designing and making appropriate fishing gears for the respective fisheries. There are different types of fishing gears designed and made by the fishing gear component appropriate for use in specific fisheries and for specific fish species or group of species. For example, some nets are designed for research purposes and others for catching species of fish such as Kapenta. The fishing gear component also conducts fishing gear trials to determine the effectiveness and suitability of fishing gears.

  1. Post-harvest

The quality of fish harvested is important in the post-harvest condition of the fish to minimize losses from the point of capture to the markets. The section is specialized in fish processing, infrastructure

Infrastructural design, fish inspection and product certification, collection of fish market information, post-harvest skills training and advisory services. The examples of the activities are as follows: design of choker kilns for smoking and storage of fish, inspection of fish processing and preservation facilities and inspection of quality of fish exports such live fish in aquarium fish trade.

  1. Museum

The museum section collects specimens of fish from the fisheries of within Zambia.  The museum is a reference collection of the important species of fish which are either rare or endemic. Common species are also archived. Some fish species are rare and it is necessary that specimens be archived. The reference of specimens is also important for use by researchers and students.


The data centre is a key national unit in the department housed at the research complex and among other things collects fish catch data with the help of the research stations in major and minor fisheries. The fish catch data are collected from fish returns of industrial fishers from Lake Tanganyika and Kariba. Other catch data are collected from artisanal fishers in other fisheries including lakes Tanganyika and Kariba. In addition, other studies conducted by the data centre include activities such as frame and catch assessment surveys to estimate the number of fishing boats and fish catch estimates respectively.  Furthermore, the data centre analyses and compiles periodical biological interpretation of the performance of the fisheries.

The Unit also coordinates the collection and storage of Aquaculture and fish trade statistics.

Key external organizations working with CFRI and Department of Fisheries in this field include Agricultural and Natural Resources Institutes and Central Statistics Office.




  • Coordinate and conduct aquaculture research in fish breeding and genetics, fish nutrition, fish health, production systems and pond limnology to generate scientific information for the increased productivity and production and for policy formulation
  • Develop and adapt new aquaculture products and technologies for aquaculture development
  • Supply of quality broodstock and fingerlings to both public and private institutions and farms in order to enhance fish production
  • Produce, package and disseminate the information to enhance aquaculture subsector growth
  • Collaborate with other local and international research and development institutions and universities in order to share knowledge and information
  • Train interested stakeholders in the developed aquaculture products and technologies in order to apply the improved technologies for improved productivity
  • Mobilise funds through the development of bankable project proposals for the purposes of aquaculture research
  • Revise regularly of the aquaculture policy in order for aquaculture research to be relevant to the existing environment
  • Maintain of an up to date aquaculture research information management system for proper storage and quick retrieval of relevant information
  • Monitor, mitigate and adapt the impacts of climate change



  • Review regularly the implementation of the aquaculture policy in order to sustain the development of the Aquaculture sub-sector
  • Provision of aquaculture extension services in order to ensure increased aquacultural productivity
  • Establish and manage operations of fish seed production and distribution centres in order to enhance fish production
  • Periodically carry out the registration of fish farmers in order to generate information required for planning and monitoring purposes
  • Co-ordinate effectively the live fish transfer and translocations in order to prevent introductions of invasive species
  • Carrying out timely monitoring and evaluation of Aquaculture extension management programmes to facilitate implementation of appropriate interventions
  • Maintenance of an up to date Information Management System in order to facilitate proper storage and quick retrieval of information
  • Supervision of human and other resources in order to attain the objectives of the section