THE Kapenta Producers Association of Zimbabwe (KPA) says it is experiencing an unprecedented decline in Kapenta catch in the giant Lake Kariba which has seen a major rise in the price of the delicious fish species.
The tiny fish form a big component of many Zimbabweans’ daily dietary requirements and are popular across the country.
KPA chairperson Nesbert Mapfumo attributed the worrisome decline to overfishing, climate change and dwindling water levels in the lake.
At its peak in the 1990s, the industry realised between five to 15 trays per vessel, but they are now netting as little as two trays per vessel or even less.
“Even though product demand remain high, producers are experiencing low catches of mostly one or half tray per vessel and this has been a result of factors such as sturbidy water which makes it difficult for light to penetrate in water, climate change and over fishing.
“The huge number of fishing vessels in Kariba dam from both Zimbabwe and Zambian side has also led to a decrease in catches,” Mapfumo said.
He said the ongoing coronavirus induced lockdown has presented opportunities for the Kapenta players after government exempted the fishing industry from the current level 4 lockdown.
“Government presented us with good opportunities after exempting us from the current lockdown. The fact that we are an essential sector, we continue feeding the nation,” he said Mapfumo.
In 2020, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
(ZIMPARKS) stopped the issuance of fishing permits in a move aimed at curbing the depletion of the fish.
The maximum fishing rigs allowed in Lake Kariba is 500.
Out of this, 275 should operate on the Zimbabwe side while 225 should operate on the Zambian side but currently the lake houses more than 1500 fishing vessels.
On the Zimbabwean side, Lake Kariba is divided into five hydrological basins; Basin 1 (Mlibizi), Basin 2 (Binga), Basin 3 (Sengwa), Basin 4 (Bumi/Chalala) and Basin 5 (Sanyati). – Newzim