ZIMBABWE- After facing five years of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing activities that nearly crippled the aquaculture sector, Zimbabwe is taking bold steps to rejuvenate the industry.

Mr. Milton Makumbe, the director of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources Department (FARD) in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development, disclosed plans to stock dams with indigenous fish species to combat the decline in fish populations around dams.

Under the Presidential Community Fisheries scheme, initiated in 2021, sustainable management practices for fishery resources will be introduced in communities near dams.

Mr. Makumbe emphasized that the scheme includes training communities on sustainable fish harvesting and establishing dam committees to instill a sense of ownership and management.

In 2022, FARD successfully stocked 21 dams, with 10 in Mashonaland Central, two in Mashonaland West, two in Mashonaland East, two in Masvingo, four in Midlands, and one in Matabeleland South.

According to Mr. Makumbe, if fully utilized, the country’s dams have the potential to produce at least 1.5 tonnes of fish per year, generating significant revenue for citizens directly and indirectly involved in the industry.

The Presidential Community Fisheries scheme will also extend to pond stocking in various units, including school business units, youth business units, village business units, and irrigation business units.

This involves establishing ponds in schools, villages, and irrigation schemes.

The introduction of community gardens featuring two fish ponds, along with the ongoing dam projects across the country, is creating numerous fish hotspots that have the potential to become commercial ventures, generating income for local communities.

Government statistics from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development indicate a 25% increase in the aquaculture sector in 2022, with 6,807.01 tonnes of fish harvested compared to 5,056.88 tonnes in 2021.

The government aims to stock 1,200 dams identified as having the potential to increase Zimbabwe’s fish consumption per capita to 13kg by 2025.

Recognizing aquaculture as the fastest-growing food-producing sector, the government’s initiative seeks to capitalize on the country’s abundant water resources and favorable climatic conditions for aquaculture.

The comprehensive approach, including community engagement and sustainable practices, aims to create a thriving and resilient aquaculture sector in Zimbabwe.

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