Zimbabwe’s potentially lucrative freshwater aquaculture sector which could add a lot to the country’s GDP is facing a threat from problems of poaching,illegal fishing and corruption, according to Aquaculture Zimbabwe Programmes Officer,Garikaimose Tongowona.
Tongowona says that fisheries activities have sharply risen over the years and still provide the bulk of local fish supplies though the sector is not among the top GDP contibutors.
“The capture fisheries resources are almost stretched to the limit in present day Zimbabwe as shown by the massive presence of fishing cooperatives on the major lakes,” Tongowona notes.
The situation is made worse by the fact that there are no breeding programmes in place to replenish fast dwindling aquatic resources, according to Tongowona.
“There are challenges of too many fishers,illegal fishing,corruption and no political willingness to develop the sector,” he adds.
His organization reports that the Zimbabwean freshwater aquaculture sector is slowly responding and awakening to a world of opportunities.
They say that this is in line with global trends resulting in the demand for white meat products,viability of the crocodile skin business,diminishing wild fisheries resources and rising food costs.
There are also downstream opportunities like fish oil processing,filleting,canning,fish soup manufacturing (frames),fish meal/feed manufacturing, just to mention a few.
There are over 3 910 sq kms of freshwater in Zimbabwe, according to Aquaculture Zimbabwe.
Tongowona however, adds that there are no local investment incentives and support schemes for development and technical research to develop the fisheries sector.
Also it is reported that there is no financial support from the banking sector.Other challenges affecting the aquaculture sector in general include lack of a clear legal framework targeting the economic growth of the sector,need to develop flexible regulatory frameworks with coordination across government agencies and government.
Tongowona also notes that there is a need to adhere to international protocols like the SADC Trade Protocol/Code of Conduct for responsible fisheries.
He adds that to develop Zimbabwe’s aquaculture sector including the fisheries industries, there is need for an overall legislative framework structure definition to provide the basic context in which aquaculture can operate,an economic policy to outline the national economic strength,income distribution,market conditions,investment opportunities and trading conditions.
The fiscal structures have to outline the positive and negative aspects for aquaculture,a social policy outlining development targets,poverty focus.Aquaculture is defined as a socially effective activity.
Tongowona adds that there is need to come up with an environmental policy outlining the environmental impact of aquaculture.
Other issues will include consumer protection,public health,resource development and management including employment regulation.
Tongowona says that various issues affect aquaculture development which include cost of production,security and market issues, just to mention a few.
He adds that there is need for policy and planning to develop strategically.lt is also noted that the industry is facing increased competition from imports/substitutes reducing local identity for production.
On disease management, Tongowona says that there is no identification,control and transmission management resulting in substantial loss potential in most species.”There is a need to implement monitoring and early-warning systems,” he says.
On environmental quality, he says that there is no framework of suitable environmental standards for the sector and an aquaculture strategy.
He adds that organizations like the Environmental Management Agency
(EMA) should come up with programmes to safeguard the country’s aquaculture sector.
He says that issues which need to be addressed include market prices,feed supply and technical capacity.