Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ILLEGAL FISHING IN THE MAHANGU PARK: KAMUTJONGA STAKEHOLDER MEETING 26 SEPTEMBER 2014

Stakeholders attending the meeting on illegal fishing in Mahangu park. FRTL: Warrant Makushe (Station Commander: Divundu Police Station), Mr. Sitengu (KIFI), Mr. Horst Koch (Ndovo Safari Lodge), Mr. Shaun O'Driscoll and Otto Grimm from Ngepi Camp. MET staff memebers from Mahangu Park and  Kamutjonga Village Development Council member Mr. Frans Kutenda along with Kamutjonga village members, Fisheries Inspectorate  and 4 KIFI staff members  attended the meeting
Kamutjonga Inland Fisheries Institute (KIFI) called on stakeholders for an extra-ordinary meeting on illegal commercial fishing on the Kavango river in the Mahangu National Park. The meeting was attended by 5 different Stakeholdersholders including the Namibian Police, Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) from Mahangu National Park, Lodge owners, Fisheries Inspectorate and representatives from Kamutjonga Village. Mahangu National Park is currently the only protected area for fish in the entire Kavango river.

Illegal drag netting and fishing of commercial scale in the Mahangu Park has been observed by several individuals. Several arrests were made involving large numbers of fish. The financial rewards of these illegal activities have been motivating the purpetrators to continue with these illegal activities.

The purpose of the Stakeholder meeting was to create a contact network in order for quick response in case people are observed entering or exiting the park.  It was reported in the meeting that illegal fishing is taking place on both sides of the park. It was decided to invite Botswana Police and Parks and Wildlife officials to a follow up meeting in order to address illegal fishing  at the border with Botswana.  Mr. Burger, from KIFI also promised to request for Fisheries Inspectors to be stationed at KIFI for proper control. 

Warrant Makushe, Station Commander of the Divundu Police Station echoed her support to the innitiative. Police officers stationed at KIFI will arrest individuals and charges will also be made by the Fisheries Inspectors.  Lodge owners and Kamutjonga village members were adamant that this activity is destroying the natural resource where it is supposed to be protected and it is negatively affecting the socio economic environment at Kamutjonga and the larger Divundu area. Food security of villagers dependant on quality protein from fish is suffering as breeding fish in the park is being decimated by the illegal drag netting. Lodge owners also reported a sharp decline in catches made by sport fisherman that practice catch and release fishing as a result of the illegal fishing.

A follow up meeting will be sheduled in the near future

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