ZIMBABWE’S fishing industry is under threat

Poachers Threaten Fishing Sector Harare ZIMBABWE’S fishing industry is under threat of collapse from foreign poachers who are illegally buying fish from unscrupulous rig attendants and an influx of cheap kapenta fish from neighbouring Mozambique.

Local companies are said to be losing millions of dollars every month as 75 percent of their fish produce is being sold through illegal channels.

Although the National Parks and Wildlife Authority had been notified, it is still to take action, which the industry players have described as tantamount to neglecting the sector which has a vast potential of creating employment.

Industry captains say Government should intervene as a matter of urgency if local companies are to survive.

Delayed corrective action could result in heavy losses, which they said could push out several companies out of business.

“We have been facing these problems over a long period but the Government has done nothing to protect us,” lamented one official with Meldon Fishing Company.

“It is important for the relevant authorities to recognise the importance of the sector since we are providing employment to thousands of school-leavers and generating foreign currency from exports.”

He said the illegal dealings in fish had become lucrative, as the fishermen sold the kapenta in foreign currency, which eventually found its way to the parallel market.

“They (poachers) usually bring foreign currency (United States dollars, Botswana pula or South African rands) and our fishermen can be drawn into spending the whole day catching fish for them,” said another operator based in Kariba.

Several fishermen have been arrested in Zambia after directing their rigs to sell kapenta on the northern shores.

At the same time hundreds of Zambian traders have established homes in fishing camps after illegally crossing into Zimbabwe

Major crossing points along the lake include Chalala, Sengwa and Bumi Hills, among others. However, the vastness of the 200km-long lake has given the authorities a headache as they work around the clock to curb the illegal movements.

The fishing industry came out of murky waters in 2002, following a major downturn between 2000 and 2001 due to fuel shortages and illegal fish imports mostly from the giant Cahora Basa Dam in Mozambique.

The Herald (Harare)

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