YOUTHS play a crucial role in reducing overfishing in Lake Kariba, a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) official has said.
Fisheries and Aquaculture FAO sub-regional officer for southern Africa, Vasco Schmidt said youths play a critical role in sustaining the fisheries currently affected by overfishing in one of the world largest man-made lakes.
“Overfishing is a challenge affecting the fishery sector in Lake Kariba,” Schmidt said last week Friday during a meeting facilitated by the African Wildlife Foundation Zimbabwe (AWF) under the theme: Zimbabwe biodiversity economy dialogue series on sharing opportunities for youths.
“Research has shown that there is a lot of overfishing in the lake, but we need a holistic approach working with other stakeholders, including the government. In Kariba, we are working closely with communities, especially youths to help with sustainable development fishing methods and enhance the value chain since fisheries have a short lifespan.
“FAO supports the development of socially inclusive business solutions led by youths that can fill market gaps and effectively in consideration of environmental issues. This is accomplished through wage employment initiatives and entrepreneurship programmes for the youth in the fisheries and other value chains.”
Schmidt noted that post-harvest fish processing offered a solution to losses experienced by fish farmers and fish traders.
FAO, in collaboration with the University of Zimbabwe Lake Kariba Research Station, has established two fish processing centres in Kariba town and at Musamba Fishing Camp, a rural outpost.
“These centres provide employment opportunities for local youths who are paid monthly. Currently, six youths are employed at each centre for drying fish. FAO has provided seed money, technical and mentorship support to five youth groups, to start their own businesses. One group is using blast-freezing technology to preserve fish, while the other group is involved in filleting of fresh fish. The other three are involved in aquaculture/pond fish production and fish ponds,” he added.
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A Zimbabwe Biodiversity Economy status report released in May this year titled: Investment Blueprint and Framework for Natural Capital Accounting says: “Capture fishery accounts for only a small portion ... Lake Kariba contributed almost 90% of the country’s capture fishery production.”
AWF country director, Olivia Mufute said youth engagement was a welcome development for posterity.
“Youths are part of the huge population globally and we support them as part of African leadership. These engagements help in shaping sustainable development issues in our communities,” she said.