THE development of more hatcheries will enhance the preservation and restocking of local fish species and in turn improve fish stocks in the Zambian water bodies, says Livestock and Fisheries Minister Greyford Monde.
And Mr. Monde said Zambian fishermen now understand the importance of the fish ban unlike in the past when they fought running battles with the Fisheries Department during the fish ban as they viewed it as a hindrance to their business.
He said it was important for Zambia to preserve her fish species by developing hatcheries across the country in order to increase the production of fingerlings to increase fish stocks in the country if fish imports were to be reduced.
He said some countries that initially depended on Zambia for fish supplies were now major exporters of the commodity, and were earning foreign exchange while Zambia, the country where the fish species came from, had become an importer of the commodity.
“For example, we import the tilapia from China which is a product of some species they got from Zambia which they refined and have been supplying us yet we are the ones who gave them the original species which they cross-bred. This is why we need to enhance our hatchers so that the country can develop more fingerling and increase the fish stocks in our water bodies to meet the local demand.
“While we still have enough fish stocks in our country, the demand is continually increasing and this means we need to plan ahead because if we allow the current state of affairs where we have to depend on imports, then we will continue to grapple with deficiencies locally,” Mr. Monde said.
And Mr. Monde said change of perception by fishermen over the fish ban has increased the rate of fish breeding in the water bodies.
He said unlike in the past, fishermen understood that fish bans were implemented in order for them to continue fishing without depleting the commodity.
He said the previous fish ban was incident-free as there were no reported cases of people being arrested for fishing during the period as most of them had come to understand that the fish ban was for their own benefit.
“This was one of the most successful fish bans because people now understand the importance of fish breeding. The Fisheries Department did not record any cases of fishermen engaging in illegal activities during the period and this can only be attributed to them understanding that Government means well for imposing the ban so that they can continue to catch more fish without depleting it,” he said.