Monday, December 16, 2013

SECOND FISHERIES STAKEHOLDER WORKSHOP: 28 November 2013, Cheshire Homes, Katima Mulilo




28 November 2013
Cheshire Homes, Katima Mulilo

The rapid decline of the upper Zambezi fishery.

Above: Rapid decline in catch per gill net in the  last three years.
Top: Visual representation of change from fishery based on large valuable species to one based on smaller, less valuable species because of excessive fishing effort and use of destructive fishing gears such as shade cloth dragnets. This illustration was drawn up to make it easier to explain to workshop participants the problems the fishers are now facing.

Purpose of the Stakeholder Meeting

The workshop’s main objective was to listen to community stakeholders’ concerns to get clarity on future interventions that staff members of the MFMR and  the Community Conservation Fisheries in KAZA Project can plan and implement in partnership with community groups (conservancies and local fish committees). NNF/EU Fisheries Project resources were used to set up the meeting with the idea that better communication and collaboration with stakeholders will make the MFMR’s job of regulation and management easier. This is important as MFMR are the long term law enforcers.

Introduction and Summary of Governor's Opening Speech

Collaboration between Government, NGOs and community stakeholders is essential to manage common pool natural resources, such as fish in floodplain and river systems. This is particularly important in the Zambezi Region where food security is being threatened by the increasing pressure on the fish resources evidenced by a rapid decline in fish catch rates.

To develop improved communication between fisheries stakeholders, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), in partnership with the NNF/EU Community Conservation Fisheries in KAZA Project, held an initial stakeholder workshop on 10th September 2013 where representatives from the Traditional Authorities (TA) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) including Conservancies, in the Zambezi Region were invited. Due to time constraints at the first workshop and to continue the consultation process, this was followed by a second workshop on 28 November 2013. Logistics at both workshops were organized by both the MFMR staff and staff of the NNF/EU Community Conservation Fisheries in KAZA Project.

After an opening prayer by Mr. Renier Burger, the MFMR Deputy Director for Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture, participants introduced themselves. In his opening address given on behalf of the Regional Governor, Mr Burger pointed out that overfishing is a widespread problem in Africa. Excessive fishing and the use of destructive gear is causing a serious decline in the fisheries in the Zambezi Region. It is important we learn from other people’s mistakes. What is needed is the removal of illegal gear to allow the recovery of fish stocks. Mr Burger said, “when a fisher says “I have to use this destructive fishing method because everyone else is using this method, and therefore if I stop and no-one else does I will suffer” he is telling the truth. So we can only manage our resources if everyone agrees to work together”. MFMR cannot be everywhere at once so the assistance of organized communities in needed. This second workshop aims to reach agreement to help MFMR get rid of bad fishing methods. One way that this is taking place in Sikunga and Impalila Conservancies is the establishment of no-fishing areas to allow fish to breed and the employment of fish guards to monitor fishing operations. 


The workshop was well attended by 42 (9 officials and 33 community members) participants. The workshop included group work and four short presentations on current fisheries initiatives in the Zambezi Region and Western Province, Zambia. Participants were given copies of the main issues recorded in the first workshop, then divided into geographical groups (Lake Liambezi and surrounds), western part of floodplain (Sikunga, Lisikili, Luhonono) and eastern part of floodplain (Ikaba, Kasika, Impalila Nakabolelwa) to discuss these issues and agree on interventions.

The main points from the three groups were:

  • The role of the Traditional Authority needs to be strengthened with regard to their powers to prevent of the use of illegal and destructive gear. For example, the TA needs powers of arrest and confiscation of illegal and harmful fishing gear (e.g. sefa-sefa nets).
  • Regulation of foreign fishers/traders and fishing camps - Foreign fishers/traders need to be registered at the local khuta.
  • Abolish temporary camps on islands and along the river that are difficult to monitor – there needs to be control and management of where the foreign fishers are living. Island camps are difficult to control and should be abolished with the assistance of the Government.
  • Fish breeding areas - There is support for Fish Protection Areas or fish breeding areas - where fish are allowed to breed and grow in peace in order to improve stocks in surrounding areas.
  • Closed season – Representatives from the Zambezi and Chobe River areas were strongly in support of a closed season. The Lake Liambezi representation did not support a closed season.
  • Fishing season for mbaala (small fish species, particularly Barbus species and Brycinus lateralis) – there was strong recommendation that MFMR should consider conditions whereby communities can harvest the small fish species with small mesh nets
  • Inspectors need to have a stronger presence and more authority. They need to work with NAMPOL and the Traditional Authority. They need to wear their uniforms when on duty and need equipment such as handcuffs.
  • Decentralise the sale of fish licences to the sub-khuta level. Revenues generated could be used to employ fish guards to check licences.

The main points from the first workshop (10 September 2013) were:

Fish stocks are in rapid decline as there is huge demand for fish from an increasing population and commercialisation;

Destructive fishing methods (many of which are illegal) are contributing to the rapid decline; and

The MFMR are empowered by Namibian law to act to protect fish stocks; but MFMR cannot be successful if they have to work alone, and they need the co-operation of the Traditional Authorities and the communities.

The full report is available on request: Contact: D. Tweddle at

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