The Fisheries Department in Monze recently echoed the views of other departments across the country that the fishing industry continues to be overlooked in the national strategy for development. It is calling on the government to pump in a lot of money to revamp the industry.
Water accounts for 20% of our land mass, but fisheries only accounts for around 1% of GDP. Fish production in Zambia has averaged between 70,000 and 85,000 tonnes per annum in recent years. With only 10% coming from fish farming.
Fish supply has not kept up with demand. In 1970 supply of fish stood at 11 kg/person/annum. In recent years it now approximates 6kg/person/annum. The drop in the per capita supply is due to decline in fishing stocks as a result of excessive fishing, as well as an increase in demand due to the increase in the human population.
Lackson Kazabu (Agriculture D. Minister) last year noted the country needs to produce in excess of 101, 400 metric tonnes of fish in order to satisfy the nation’s annual demand. And yet Government funding for the fishing industry has been less than 0.2% of the national budget in recent years.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out where the problem is. The fishing industry remains the most undervalued and overlooked sector in Zambia. There’s a lot that can be done by simply defining the appropriate rights and responsibilities at the local level with relevant regulatory oversight. The current national management system of our fishing resources is broken.
Fisheries can become a major income earner for many people if tangible policies can be developed that are focused on community-based resource management, as well as fishing supporting infrastructure (e.g. landing sites, markets and laboratories). There’s also need to intensify campaign for safe fishing methods that will encourage sustainable fishing practices. The policies are well known, what baffles many is why they are not implemented.
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013