Climate change, poaching decimating Zim fish stocks

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Tinashe Farawo

BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI

POACHING and climate change are decimating Zimbabwe’s fish stocks, the country’s wildlife authorities have said.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) says climate change has become a reality in Zimbabwe and the perennial problem of poaching is not helping matters.

“Climate change has generally led to increased temperatures in our water bodies and this is likely going to continue affecting our wildlife conservation efforts including the fisheries,” ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said.

“Apart from the rising temperatures, there is also inconsistent rainfall patterns where sometimes we receive a lot of rainfall and sometimes lower rainfall which has also affected the food production of fish and that is also in reference to the Kariba Dam which will definitely impact on the production of fish which will lead to reduced catch and definitely livelihoods will be affected because many people rely on fish either for food or small businesses.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research says most parts of southern Africa such as the Zambezi Valley will warm up by as much as 2,5ºC by 2050 while surface runoff will decrease most river basins.

Farawo says chances of fisheries being decimated are higher as many people have resorted to fish poaching either for commercial or sustenance purpose.

According to a yearly operation report by Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit in Lake Kariba, the year 2021 saw 86 fishing nets measuring a combined totalling 24 919 metres being seized from poachers in addition to 23 kapenta rigs which were also recovered.

“We have poaching where some people have been found with nets which catch everything including the smallest and this definitely reduces the population of the fish,” Farawo said.

According to Bhejane Trust founder Trevor Lane, the rise in fish poaching where some people have resorted to using mosquito nets to catch larger volumes of fish has been fuelled by the country’s socio-economic hardships.

“Fish poaching is on the rise here (Zimbabwe) where we find mosquito nets and cheap filament nets being used illegally with an alarming number of small fish being taken out of the waters before they reach maturity and reproductive size, and this is compromising our ecosystem,” Lane said.

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