While agriculture is the most important source of livelihood, Zambia has 15 million hectares of water in the form of rivers, lakes and swamps, which provide the basis for extensive freshwater fisheries. Government is aware of the direct benefits of fish as a source of food of high nutritional value, especially for vulnerable groups, so the sector is not underrated.
It is estimated that the sector supports more than 300 000 people deriving their livelihood directly as fishers and fish farmers, or indirectly as traders, processors and other service providers. The precariousness of the food security situation in many parts of Zambia requires action to improve animal protein supply.
Government efforts to increase fish production and enhance nutrition have targeted popularizing aquaculture and collective management of capture fisheries for sustainable resource utilization. Government assistance has helped to popularize pond culture techniques and has contributed significantly to the creation of an institutional and technological infrastructure in support of the growth of the industry.
This will require attracting corporate investments in the sector to help realize the country’s fisheries and aquaculture potential, by transforming the agricultural output mix, thus supporting the country’s food needs and contributing significantly to growth of exports by removing socio-economic and institutional constraints facing the industry. Fishing in Zambia is carried out by two distinct groups: industrial operators and traditional or artisanal fishers.
The bulk of fish is distributed by private and individual traders, of which a large number are women. Fisheries from a rural development point of view is an important open employment sector.
The industrial fishery on lakes Karina and Tanganyika exploits mostly the Cupids (Sardines) Limnothrissa moon and Stolothrissa Tanzania. Lake Karina catches are about 98 percent L. moon, with a small by-catch of Tilapia, Morris, Synovitis, Serranochromis, Hydrogen and other Char acid species.
The main species of commercial value in the various Zambian markets (listed in order of relative abundance in terms of catch and market value) are Bangweulu (Citharinidae, Chile SP., Bridge, Hydrogen); Itezhi-tezhi (Clarice, Morris, Schlbeidae. Zambia has 15 million hectares of water in form of rivers, lakes and swamps.
The fisheries in the Congo basin include Bangweulu, Mweru-Luapula, Were Wanting and Tanganyika. Industrial fishing activities are limited to Lake Tanganyika and Karina, and are associated with production of magenta.
The long distance between catching and consumption areas and limited cold storage and transport facilities means that 65 percent of production is dried, most of which is magenta, smoked or simply sun-dried, and rarely salted breams. The Lake Tanganyika basin is the smallest, with fish fauna of Mitotic affinities.
The Lake Were Wanting catchment could be considered as stand alone as it is an internal drainage system with no outlet. The fishery is dominated by catches of the Cupid Angraulicypris SPP., Cichlids and Char acids (most notably Lester macropthalmus).
The Value flood plain and its extension of the Luanda swamps is a Cichlid Tilapia SPP. Fishery, although of late the non-indigenous species Oreochromisniloticus has infested the flood plain, having been introduced inadvertently by the sugar plantation fish farm.
Lake Mweru-Luapula was once famous for its highly valued Cypriot Label actively (muumuu) which is now rare due to overfishing and poor fishing practices. The lake supports an intensive artisanal inshore fishery and also a commercial fishery comprising 28 purse seines exploiting pelagic species of magenta (Cupids), Limnothrissa moon and Stolothrissa Tanzania, and a Laid, Violates starppersii (kabuki).
The flooded plains provide ideal breeding grounds and nurseries for the juveniles. Introduction of permanently closed areas as sanctuaries and breeding grounds for commercially important species.
Zambian fisheries are dominated by artisanal fishers whose fishing operations are predominantly gill netting using craft made of planks or fiberglass. No restrictions are imposed on the number of craft or nets that an artisanal fisher can own.
Despite being in a ministry where farmers enjoy a number of incentives, such as tax relief on inputs and equipment for production, the same does not apply to the fisheries sector. The recreational sector is predominantly tourist-oriented and is based on the exploitation of the Tiger fish (Hydrolysis vitiates).
Organization of this subsector is spearheaded by the Zambia Sport Fishing Association (ISFA). Destinations include the Value, Luanda and Zambezi rivers, and lakes Bangweulu, Karina and Tanganyika.
Zambia is a country richly endowed with natural resources ideally suited to aquaculture production. Aquaculture promotion in Zambia has a long history, dating back over forty years.
At the same time, 16 large commercial fish farmers have taken up the activity in the Copper belt, Lusaka and Southern Provinces, where ideal conditions for such business exist. Small-scale fish farmers rely on family labor and practice extensive culture.
Emergent fish farmers have income generation from the element of food security for their households. They purchase some inputs and practice integration, i.e. combine fish farming, crops and livestock, and they may use family or hired labor for various tasks.
The Value River strain of the Three-spotted bream is the most commonly farmed species in the commercial sector. Other species include the common carp, the Nile tilapia and freshwater crayfish.
They also lack capital to improve and increase their investment in aquaculture, while the Department of Fisheries is constrained by limited funding and capacity (training and staff shortages) from providing effective extension support. Long-standing constraints in aquaculture include: inadequate extension services, lack of comprehensive training packages and materials, chronic shortages of quality fish seed and fingerlings, high cost of fish feed, and poor marketing support.
There are continuing government efforts to promote aquaculture as it believes that exploitation of opportunities in aquaculture will reduce pressure on capture fisheries and provide opportunities for increased incomes for the rural poor. Fish is processed and distributed in various forms: fresh, salted, smoke-dried, sun-dried, frozen and filleted.
Ice plants, packaging factories, transport receptacles (cooler boxes) Market facilitation operations are still undeveloped in Zambia due to orientation of production to domestic demand.
Nationally, valuable markets are found in Central, Copper Belt, Eastern and Lusaka provinces, as these have huge, dense populations. At international level, and specific to live fish for ornamental purposes, the common destinations are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, UK, Germany, Russia, Sweden and the United States of America.
Even though annual fish production increased from 40 000 t/yr in the late 1960s to over 62 000 t in 2000, it has consistently failed to exceed 70 000 t/yr, even in favorable years. This estimate is largely based on the contribution from capture fisheries, as production from aquaculture is not regularly reported.
Attainment of self-sufficiency in household food security, increased number of people employed by the sector and a reduction in poverty levels is indicated by people in fishery areas being able to purchase luxury goods (i.e. bicycles, radios), willingness to pay levies and taxes for social amenities and improved housing indicate the economic role of fisheries. Population density, supplies and income determine the demand for marketed fish.
The country has the potential to produce more fish on a sustainable basis with the development of aquaculture and rational management of capture fisheries. The major import and export flows are mainly of the fresh water sardines Limnothrissa SPP.
Greater participation of fisheries in the foreign exchange earnings is only found in the ornamental fish trade. However, data to ascertain the extent of contribution to national earnings is scanty as only rough estimates exist of the monetary value of the present fish trade.
Fish is an important food item in the Zambian diet, accounting for up to 55 percent of the national dietary animal protein. Urban dwellers generally consume more fish than people in rural areas.
Everyone, irrespective of socio-economic status, enjoys fish in Zambia ; there is therefore a strong recognition by government that aquaculture can and should play an important role in terms of food security, nutrition and income generation. These sectors either directly or indirectly offer employment at various levels, improving the local economy, especially in rural areas.
Artisan fishers use simple dugout canoes or fiber glass banana boats with outboard engines, while the operations of industrial fishers involve larger vessels operated by inboard engines, with better onboard storage facilities. Main areas of employment associated with the fishery sector are boat building and repair, net manufacturing, fish processing, fuel wood supply, power supply, transportation and marine workshops.
Direct employment generated by fish farming is approximately two persons per hectare. It is a well known fact that good fish catches coupled with sound management practices coupled with a reliable supply of inputs (seller to buyer) within operational areas will curb migrations of fishers away from fishing.
Social services are being brought into the fishing communities while encouraging fisher village groupings. This is due to poor and uncoordinated systems of collection and utilization of revenue from fishing levies and licenses.
While fishing in a particular fishery is regulated by way of licensing, the number of licenses issued is not limited. Dissemination of information on production techniques and processing technologies to small-scale fish farmers and fishers has been of limited effectiveness.
This has been due to poor evaluation of target groups and inadequate extension coverage. With declining incomes in capture fisheries resulting from the depletion of stocks of preferred fish species and sizes, opportunities for growth in the sector will come from increased and coordinated investment in aquaculture.
Information is insufficient on parameters such as statistics on fish production levels, number of stocked and stocked ponds, pond yield, fish stocks, levels of exploitation and market data. There are other crosscutting issues for consideration relating to health (HIV/AIDS and general sanitation) among fishing communities, the processing chain to add value to fishery products, limited competition among service providers to the fishing industry, and development of marketing (i.e. cold chain).
In order to achieve this objective, and in view of sectoral problems and strengths identified, possible interventions are: Developing stakeholder partnerships towards sustainable and efficiently managed exploitation of fish and other valuable aquatic resources in natural water bodies.
Identification and implementation of fishery development strategies through enhancements (stocking and re-stocking) of both indigenous and suitable exotic species. While aquaculture offers opportunities for increased incomes and food among low-income earners, its exploitation has remained minimal.
Each major fishery has a research station whose aim is to assess and analyze through quantitative methods and population models the level of exploitation of fish stocks. Fisheries research on floodplain river systems focuses on needs for resource protection and enhancement.
Fisheries research in Zambia has mainly dealt with the two areas of fish biology and ecology. The last project was inaugurated in 1991, Research for the Management of the Fisheries of Lake Tanganyika, which was financed by Finnish and implemented by FAO.
Kyoto University, Japan, on the development of underwater parks in Lake Tanganyika. African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) Biodiversity Studies in the Upper Zambezi fishery.
Training in fisheries aims at meeting the aspirations of the industry and to provide skilled workers capable of participating in development programs. Fisheries education in tertiary institutions of learning is new in the country and was introduced in the early 1990s, but without the necessary financial support and requisite infrastructure.
There are no formal arrangements in which training in tertiary institutions outside the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives are linked to development needs. Institutions of the Ministry of Agriculture and provincial Local Government Authorities, CMOS and NGOs will be working with the beneficiaries.
Project to Support the Lake Tanganyika Integrated Regional Management Program (PROD AP). This is a regional program involving the four riparian states: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia.
The program goal is to contribute to reducing poverty in the Lake Tanganyika Basin. The project has a five-year duration, with the involvement of relevant ministries for natural resources management, fisheries, health, local government and infrastructure development.
Fisheries legislation has had a comparatively slow evolution as it does not conform to current changes in policy and traditions of the local communities. Legislation is old and inappropriate to current thinking for the management and development of fisheries, as it has not changed from the colonial era.