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Kariba fishing industry faces collapse



THE Kariba fishing industry is on the brink of collapse due to the record low level of water in the world’s largest man-made lake.


Some fishing boats are now literally docked on land in areas that used to have very deep waters near the centre of the lake.

The record low water level at Kariba Dam has also affected power generation, a situation that has resulted in rolling 18-hour power outages in Zimbabwe.

Nesbert Mapfumo, the secrerary-general of the Kapenta Producers’ Associations of Zimbabwe, told The NewsHawks almost 80% of big fishing companies that operate in Kariba have virtually shut down and closed shop.

“The water has gone down to such worrying levels. We are affected by quite a number of issues in terms of the depth of water. We are not allowed to fish in areas with water that is less than 20 metres deep. The area we are supposed to fish in is getting narrower, smaller and smaller such that it is likely to cause deep depletion of fish,” Mapfumo said.

“It means the boats will now be concentrated in a very small area. If you go to many areas where we used to fish, there is no more water and it is now considered shallow ground. From the shore line to inland, we are supposed to fish two kilometres from the shore line.

“So, with this low level of water, that means the area we are now fishing on is too small and the boats are now concentrated on small areas hence most of the companies are now closing.”
Mapfumo revealed that most of the boats that used to be anchored in water depth exceeding 20 metres are now sitting on dry land and mud.

“Most of the boats are now in mud and dry land because the owners find it too expensive to retrieve them from those areas to places where there is plenty water,” he said.

“People are failing to remove the boats from the mud or dry land because the expenses involved are just too much. It’s now no longer viable for people to concentrate on resuscitation of those boats because of the expenses and the catches that we are experiencing.”

Mapfumo, a seasoned fisher who has been in the trade for a long time, also revealed that the cost of the yearly permits from the government has worsened the plight of the industry.

“The government should do something because of the costs of fishing permits. Per year we are paying US$1 200 but many people are no longer affording that because the business has declined. I think we need to engage the government on that one. That figure is no longer viable, considering the low catches that we are getting,” he said.

According to the Commercial Fishing Industry’s Global Market Outlook, the global commercial fishing industry market accounted for US$240.99 billion in 2017 and expected to reach US$438.59 billion by 2026, but the situation obtaining on Lake Kariba looks bleak.

The development comes at a time when there is already an expanding demand for a variety of seafood which is heightened by increasing awareness about its health benefits.
Lake Kariba, shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe, was created in 1958 when a section of the Zambezi River was dammed.

On the Zimbabwean side, the lake is divided into five hydrological basins: Basin 1 (Mlibizi), Basin 2 (Binga), Basin 3 (Sengwa), Basin 4 (Bumi/Chalala) and Basin 5 (Sanyati).

Kariba Dam was constructed on the orders of the government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, a federal colony within the British Empire.

It has a double curvature concrete arch dam that was designed by Coyne et Bellier and constructed between 1955 and 1959 by Impresit of Italy at a cost of US$135 000 000 for the first stage with only the Kariba South power cavern.

Final construction and the addition of the Kariba North Power cavern by Mitchell Construction was completed in 1977 for a total cost of US$480 million. During construction, 86 men lost their lives. 

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