Fishermen need to diversify
Published On February 4, 2014 » 3488 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Business, Columns
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LIKE I stated last week, annually, all fishery areas in Zambia are closed to fishing from about December 1, to the beginning of March the following year, except for Lake Kariba and Lake Tanganyika. The two are not affected by the annual fishing ban because they are shared water bodies and, therefore, have different management protocols and are mainly the sources of small fish called Kapenta, which is highly migratory. According to the Fisheries Act of the Laws of Zambia, it is an offence to carry out fishing activities or to be in possession of fish during the fishing ban period. Today, I want to advance the discussion by, apart from the overstated need to allow fish breeding, looking at other possible merits of this policy measure. The Government has, for instance, realised the need to help the fishermen to diversify into other sources of livelihood. It has been distributing farming inputs to fishermen in Luapula and other provinces to encourage them to take up farming as a substitute during the fish ban which coincides with maize farming period. The Government encourages other diversification activities away from fishing for fishermen. Apart from ensuring fish conservation, the Government’s promotion of crop farming among the fishers has enhanced food security among the households in fishing areas. This is a plus even in terms of ensuring balanced diets. In 2009, the Government through the Department of Fisheries launched 24 marine boats in 24 different community Zones. The 24 marine boats are meant for the supervision and monitoring of fishing during the fishing ban season. Luapula Province kicked-off the launch of the 24 banana boats to ensure the approaching fish ban was effective. That exercise was conducted alongside sensitisation by a combined team of officers drawn from State security wings and the Department of Fisheries in Luapula Province on the need for fish conservation In addition to that, the Government has been promoting aquaculture in the areas that are highly dependent on fishing. This is important especially that the fish ban does not affect fish farmers whose activities go uninterrupted with harvest and sales of their farmed fish regardless of the season. The deliberate move to encourage fishers to engage in the production of small ruminants like goats and non-ruminants like pigs as a means to further supplement their income is progressive. Generally speaking, the ban on fishing creates a deficit in the fish supply in the country which if looked at from another angle creates a business opportunity. That is a yawning opportunity for people who would want to go into aquaculture given the steady demand which has to be met regardless of the season. Potential fish farmers can rear the fish and target their harvest during the fishing ban season and maximise their profits. Established fish firms are already capitalising on this by heightening the fish supplies during the fishing ban period, much to the delight of the consumers whose accessibility of this source of protein continues nonstop. Capital Fisheries, for instance, has been recording massive business in terms of demand for fish during this period. Recently, I had a chat with managing director Damian Roberts who told me that the fish business reaches its peak during the period for the ban every year. Underscoring the importance of such firms during the fishing ban period, Mr Roberts said that there is need to encourage small scale fish farmers in the sector to do more Capital Fisheries is a privately-owned company whose core business is in the wholesale and distribution of fish and seafood products. Incorporated in 1999 with only one product, buka buka, at inception, the firm has expanded its range of products to about 100 with more than 50 per cent of them being sourced locally Due to the ever-rising demand for fish products, last year alone, Capital Fisheries opened 22 new outlets in various parts of the country. According to Mr Roberts the potential for the fish production and market in the country is still massive Surely, it is often stated that Zambia has as much as 40 per cent of the water resources in the southern region However, this resource is greatly underutilised, especially if we consider what is happening in other nations like Egypt. That country, which has just one major resource of water, farms five times more fish than the rest of Africa combined. That, in itself, is an indication of the potential that we have and there is need to continue working towards exploiting this potential. Comments:0955431442, 0977246099 oe

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