CLIMATE change, leading to reduced water levels, illegal fishing and poor methods are putting under threat the lives and livelihoods of fishers dependant on the Lake Kariba. Artisinal fishermen in the Siavonga district, south of Zambia, lamented the setbacks amid poor fish harvests.
“Our source of livelihood as artisanal fishermen is under threat due to the diminishing water levels in Lake Kariba,” said Edward Kombe of Matinangala area.
He depends on fishing to provide for his wife and three children.
“Fishing is now a challenge, we don’t get as much fish as we used to
some four or five years ago,” Kombe said.
He said fishers only managed good catches during the rainy season when
water levels get high.
“It is a very big challenge in the dry season and because we use canoes,
we have to paddle far into the waters for many hours before getting some
catch. Sometimes some fishermen end up of losing their lives on the
lake,” he said.
At full capacity, Kariba is at 180 cubic kilometres. In 2022, the water level at the lake—the world’s largest reservoir and a major source of electricity in Zimbabwe and Zambia—dropped sharply, a situation blamed on climate change-induced drought.
According to the Zambezi Water Authority, it is 27,96 percent full as of
April 27 this year.
“The Lake level has been rising due to higher inflows on the mainstream
Zambezi River as compared to outflows,” the agency stated.
With fewer fishes to catch, the livelihoods fishers and fish farmers, or
indirectly as traders, processors and other service providers have been
Fined Mutempa, Siavonga Kapenta Fishers Association (SKFA) chairperson ,
also attributed the continued depletion of Kapenta fish in Lake Kariba in Siavonga as a result of bad fishing methods and an increase in the numbers of crayfish, which eat kapenta eggs and hatchlings.
“Kapenta fish has reduced in population in the lake. The reduction has
been caused by the crayfish and poor fishing methods. Some Kapenta
fishermen use mosquito nets to fish Kapenta, together with the eggs and
also fingerlings,” he said.
Mutempa noted the depletion of water weeds, which are vital in Kepenta
fish breeding. Crayfish have devoured the weeds.
“So at the moment Kapenta fish in Lake Kariba have no breeding area.
When they go deep area they are eaten by tiger fish and when they go
shallow water they are eaten by crayfish,” he explained.
The government, through the Department of Fisheries in Siavonga, has
pledged to address challenges facing the Kapenta fishing industry in the
– CAJ News