Author: ActionAid Zambia
Impact: Over 3,000 fishers

Located on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, Lake Kariba is the fourth largest lake in Africa and among the largest man-made lakes in the world. While it once thrived with many species of fish, this vast expanse of water is now suffering from a depletion of its resources… The main causes? Overfishing and the misuse of illegal fishing gear.

​To counter this crisis, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock of Sinazongwe – a town nestled on the northern shore of Lake Kariba – had tried to establish some rules and regulations. Among them, the prohibition of baskets, string nets and other illicit materials; the recommendation of cotton nets of at least three and a half inches; the obligation to acquire fishing licenses or setting a fishing ban during breeding season.

Solely establishing these rules, unfortunately, did not bring about the expected outcome… Mainly because of a lack of information to fishermen, who for the most part, did not have a fishing license. Moreover, the Sinazongwe Fisheries Department lacked both transportation and adequate human resources to enforce the regulations.

In order to curb these bad fishing practices and protect the biodiversity of Lake Kariba, ZAMOF, with the support of ECOFISH and the EU, in partnership with ActionAid Zambia, has established and strengthened fishing committees at the community level by training fishermen in sustainable fisheries management.

Figure 1 Sinazongwe District Livestock and Fisheries Coordinator with Community Fisheries Committees inspecting fishing activities around Lake Kariba

This initiative, part of the “Zambia Small Scale Sustainable Fisheries Project'', has had a positive influence on the community. It resulted in helping the fishermen in finally obtaining their fishing licenses: a rather optimistic aftermath, attesting to the enthusiasm and willingness of the community to participate in the management of fisheries resources. This first step allows them to continue their fishing activities, while complying with the rules initially set by the Department. Indeed, 35 fishermen from the fishing village of Chilele have agreed to pay for their licenses. Inhabitants of Siatwinda, Sinalilogwe, Sinachikuyu, Chiabi, Siasowa, Nzenga, Sinantandabale, Ngoma and Simunzila decided to do same as well. When fishing is prohibited, fishermen are encouraged to start chicken farming as an alternative source of income.

Trained by the fishing committee, a team of scouts will be patrolling Lake Kariba. They shall apprehend anyone being there during the fishing ban, and confiscate their illegal fishing materials, ensuring that the rules are respected. It goes without saying that this initiative strengthens the relationship between fishermen and the Department of Fisheries, enhancing better communication.​

The intervention has so far recorded 1290 fishers that have obtained fishing licenses. Across all the 7 districts, we have more than 3000 fishers obtaining fishing licenses. We have 40 cooperatives that registered in the fishing camps across the seven district of project implementation areas. The community level fisheries committes in Sinazongwe have reported and recorded confiscating 5 illegal fishing gears.​

A few steps in the right direction in this fight against poor fishing practices in Lake Kariba!