By Tapiwa Machemedze
Fishermen in Kanyemba, Mbire district who survive on the exploration of the Zambezi River have bemoaned low capacity for business viability.
The fishing cooperatives operating on the Zambezi River need greater capacitation for better returns to improve livelihoods.
Despite living near such a rich natural resource as the mighty Zambezi river, fisherman in Kanyemba, Mbire district, are singing the blues due to a shortage of boats and prohibition against working at night.
Ngwena Fishing Cooperative chairman Frank Mwanza says business viability is low due to a number of factors limiting their capacity.
“Compared to our number which is 40 we have only 2 boats so we are not fishing as much as we would want and this limits our income. Yes we have plans to buy more boats with our little money and so far we have raised enough to buy 1 and a half boats…. night time is really where fish are caught which give us volumes but because parks are not allowing us to work at night we are catching low volumes. This is unlike in Zambia they work day and night so we can’t equal them,” he said.
Another fisherman Bigboy Chingwena says there is a need for suitable equipment and training to enhance viability.
“We have to rotate members but then on some days, there is no fish so it can be tricky. We share the proceeds the fisherman who goes out on a particular day gets 40 percent while the cooperative gets 60 percent,” he said.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) spokesperson, Tinashe Farawo confirmed that night fishing is prohibited to save lives.
“We are conducting some research to ascertain whether claims that there is more fish at night is true. Most of the fishermen in Kanyemba use canoes and not boats so we do prohibit fishing at night as we value life and to minimise accidents,” he said.
Last year, fishing permits in Kanyemba were slashed from 800 to 100 United States dollars per year for Ngwena Fishing Cooperative, while smaller cooperatives now pay 15 United States dollars per year, a move welcomed by the community heavily reliant on fishing for survival.
By Tapiwa Machemedze