MOZAMBIQUE – After the discovery of an outbreak of a suspected fungal disease affecting fish Mozambique has issued a ban on fishing activities at three lakes in the country’s northern region.

The ban has been introduced at the lakes Chiuta, Chirua and Amaramba which are known to straddle the border with Malawi.

According to authorities, the fish retrieved from these lakes were found to have red spots on their bodies which were identified as an indication of an outbreak of epizootic ulcerative syndrome, also known as red-spotted disease.

“Although the subject is under investigation, we guarantee that the syndrome does not affect humans as long as the fish is boiled well,” Armando Maulana, the district`s director of economic activities, said.

After some of the fish had been sent to a laboratory in the capital, the Ministry of Fisheries further advised that the fish from the endemic area be cooked whether with or without red spots.

According to the UN`s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the disease has the potential to financially decimate those who rely on fishing for income.

Communities around the lakes, which are fairly large, depend on fishing and the move is likely to affect many Mozambican and Malawian fishermen.

The FAO stated that the infected fish should not be thrown back into open waters and should instead be disposed of properly by means of burying or burning.

Government moves to fisheries recovery plan

In the meantime, Zimbabwe has introduced efforts to boost fish production and improve food and nutrition security as the government continue to restock all communal dams in the Midlands province with fingerlings under the Presidential Community Fisheries Scheme.

Earlier this year, as part of this initiative, a total of 15 dams in Gokwe were stocked with 100 000 fingerlings of tilapia, demonstrating Government’s commitment to the fisheries recovery plan.

The government has set a target of introducing five million fingerlings in communal dams around the province by the end of the year.

Fish farming is the fastest-growing food-producing sector and can be done more efficiently and cost-effectively.

According to Midlands provincial livestock officer, Mr Zivanai Matore, the government aims to enhance the availability of fish for both consumption and sale by stocking these dams.

“This move could potentially contribute to the growth of the economy and improve the living standards of the neighbouring communities,” he said.

“Zimbabwe has an annual requirement of 30 000 tonnes of fish, while current production figures stand at 14 000 tonnes. Through the dam stocking initiative, it is expected that production will jump to 40 000 tonnes by 2025.”

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