Saturday, August 2, 2014

MISSION REPORT ON THE JOINT BIOLOGICAL SURVEY CONDUCTED BY ANGOLA, NAMIBIA AND BOTSWANA: JUNE-JULY 2014




By: Christopher Munwela, Focal person

Introduction

The Trans-boundary Fisheries Management Plan of the Okavango/Kavango/Cubango Basin was formulated under the auspices of the Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation (JPCC) between Botswana and Namibia with an aim of establishing a joint fisheries monitoring system between the two countries that will ensure the conservation and sustainable use of shared fisheries resources of the concerned riverine system. This was in realization of the fact that fish resources of a shared river system cannot be managed by individual riparian states. The scope of participation was further expanded to include Angola during implementation phase as the flood waters originate in Angola; hence whatever happens in Angola has a direct impact on the downstream. The Management Plan therefore came up with a number of activities that are to be implemented jointly by the participating countries (Angola, Namibia and Botswana). The SAREP programme based in Maun, Botswana coordinated and funded meetings that saw the development of the fisheries management plan. The countries agreed, to have two joint biological fish surveys (during low and high water) each year and the first one took place in May 2014 with Namibia being the host country. The second one was recently conducted in June in Botswana and the data was analyzed and draft report. The survey in Cubango, Angola is not yet conducted ...

1.1       Survey overall objective

The main objective of the joint surveys is to standardize fisheries research methodology of the three riparian states in order to ensure coordinated data collection, analysis and report writing with a view to enabling easy comparison of research findings of all participating countries. The standardized research methodology developed in the joint surveys will then be used by researchers of each respective country.
Specific Objectives
1.    To standardize fisheries research methods
2.    To ensure coordinated data collection methods
3.    To conduct basic data analysis
4.    To produce a basic joint survey report
5.    To build capacity for fisheries research
6.    To recommend the way forward

a) Low water survey in Namibia and Botswana
It was agreed that low water fish biological survey should be conducted early October in both countries. As in the joint biological Surveys carried out in Namibia, the overall objective of site selection is to compare a heavily fished area with an unfished one.
Namibia as the host will provide boats and nets. Each participating country will do their own logistical arrangements.
b) Data Analysis
It was agreed that participating countries should avail data that they have been collecting through their own biological surveys to facilitate joint analysis in order to establish the trends of the fish resources of the Kavango and Okavango riverine system.

C) Meeting at Okavango Research Institute (ORI), University of Botswana
The research team attended the meeting at ORI where issues of joint fisheries management were discussed. ORI is a major repository of the data around the Kavango basin. Mr. Mosepele, a fisheries researcher at ORI at the institute expressed his happiness that finally countries are collaborating and reiterated his support and willingness to work in both countries. ORI proposed a network of fisheries scientists should be created in Southern Africa to meet periodically and put recommendations of fisheries management in the SADC Region.
D) Development of a data base for the Trans-boundary Fisheries Management Plan Programme
As a way of ensuring information sharing, data management and comparison of research findings amongst participating countries, it was agreed that a fisheries database need to be developed. It was further agreed that the Okavango Research Institute (ORI) should be brought in and be a major player in this program as ORI is currently undertaking extensive research in the Okavango delta including Lake Ngami; hence its involvement will be highly valuable.

E) Recommendations and Way Forward
The team felt that since the joint survey is a step forward, there is a need for management of riparian states to meet and find a way of bringing Angola on board 
 It was agreed that Botswana, as a host country, should organize promotional material such as T-shirts or bags as a way of showing visibility of the Trans-boundary Fisheries Management Plan project.
 It was agreed that for smooth continuity and consistency in the standardization process, member countries  to send the same officers to participate.

A focus should be put on KIFI to be a leading research institute where the data collected should be analyzed and stored. This should be done by benchmarking with other institution like ORI.
The team will also meet to discuss and come up with a draft proposal on the closed season in the Zambezi Region  for consideration before end August 2014. 

I)           Photos depicting data collection and capturing


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