AS the impact of climate change deepens, support for the fisheries sector is vital than ever, particularly in Kariba where it is the main source of employment. The sector employs, formally and informally, more than 35 percent of the population in this northern Zimbabwean town.
Probably the oldest industry in Kariba, the fishing industry is divided into various categories- namely the gillnet, angling and kapenta fisheries.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), climate change has affected the iconic Lake Kariba and its environs, as envisaged by fluctuating lake water levels that have also affected electricity availability. Fisheries have also been affected by the changes.
Research conducted on Lake Kariba has shown that increasing temperatures affect fisheries productivity and the fluctuating lake water levels affect the actual fishing activities by fishery-dependent communities.
In addition, players in the fishing industry are losing equipment, some drowning and others left injured in human-wildlife conflicts.
“Small-scale fisheries globally face many challenges that render them vulnerable to global climatic and socio-economic changes. Enhancing sustainability of Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) of Lake Kariba is necessary for improving fisheries management and also improving availability of fish for food security and economic growth,” said Patrick Talla, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa.
Rhodes Madyira, Kapenta Workers Union of Zimbabwe (KWUZ) Secretary General, told CAJ News Africa that despite the efforts they were putting in, workers in the fisheries industry were among the least paid in Zimbabwe.
He however commended the industry, describing it as irreplaceable.“What those who are formally employed are getting is far much beyond what they should be getting in terms of remunerations. Some employers at this age are still exploiting their workers. However it is impressive to note that the sector remains the cornerstone of the economy of Kariba,” Madyira said.
He said the fishing industry needed empowerment, equipment and funding. Aptly, the Ministry of Water, Lands and Fisheries has created a Department of Fisheries.“This department will take fishing seriously to motivate and enrich all players,” Madyira anticipated.
Amid the economic challenges, he noted kapenta was affordable and rich in terms of nutrition. “So, we are appealing to funders to cheap out for the industry to remain viable,” Madyira added. Tanga Kanhema, Kapenta Producers of Zimbabwe chairperson, commended the government and its partners for the support towards the fishing sector, especially small scale fisheries. “With this support, the industry will remain sustainable,” Kanhema said.
Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality, said the fisheries sector was key towards Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 of attaining an upper middle income society status.“We therefore count on the sustainable management of the fishery sector to add to continued employment of the local communities of Kariba and contribution to the national gross domestic product (GDP),” the minister said.
Fish yields in the lake have been declining over the years due to several factors which include overfishing and the use of unsustainable fishing practices.Climate change has also played a part in negatively impacting total fish catches and lowering household income.
– CAJ News