ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwean government and the Food and Agriculture Organization have partnered to develop a new fisheries and aquaculture bill, to provide a comprehensive legal framework for the management and development of the sector.

According to the government, the initiative is meant to strengthen the country’s fisheries and aquaculture legislation and transform it into a driver of economic growth and a source of employment in Zimbabwean.

The FAO sub-region Coordinator for southern Africa, Patrice Talla said that the bill will consider for debate in parliament and the ascension to the law by the end of the year.

He added that strengthening the legal framework was part of Zimbabwe’s efforts to develop its nascent aquaculture sector and transform it into a driver of economic growth and a source of employment.

“The fisheries bill will be the first of its kind and has been described as a milestone of great economic importance that can pave the way for investments in the sector,” Talla noted.

In a report, Mr. Talla revealed that FAO will be providing technical expertise in the development of the bill while the government will be the leading process of stakeholder consultation and engagement.

“FAO has engaged its top legal experts to support the development of the fisheries bill. I am convinced that it will result in increased investment and production in the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the country,” he said.

An assessment of Zimbabwe’s tilapia sector to identify challenges restricting growth and formulating an upgrading strategy conducted by FISH 4 African, Caribbean and Pacific States (FISH4ACP), a global fish value chain development initiative and the Chinhoyi University of Technology between 2021 and 2022 found that the legal framework was a key issue for improvement.

“FISH4ACP is now supporting Zimbabwe’s Government to develop fisheries and aquatic bill, which will see the harmonization of various pieces of legislation relating to the fisheries sector in the country,” continued Mr. Talla

According to the country’s industry data, fish production in Zimbabwe is set to rise over the next five years.

The average growth rate of 2.4% year-on-year since 1977 is expected to take output to 13,240 metric tons by 2026.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean fish consumption is projected to reach 19.84 thousand metric tons by 2026, growing at an average rate of 0.8% year-on-year since 2017.

In 2021, the country ranked 92nd in the world for fish consumption, with Bulgaria coming ahead at 18.69 thousand metric tons.

The country’s per capita fish consumption is well below the average in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

This means that consumption of tilapia in Zimbabwe can be increased significantly if production costs can be decreased to reduce retail prices.

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