ZIMBABWE’S fishing industry is clutching at straws due to cheap imports that the government is allowing into the country, with operators in the kapenta sector contemplating shutting down the
Operators say they are facing stiff competition from imported fish products that the government is allowing to flood the local market.
The price of fresh kapenta has remained subdued and not in tandem with inflation because of cheap fish products that are being imported from Mozambique and Namibia. Zimbabwe imports mackerel from Namibia and Mozambique.
Stakeholders who met in Kariba last week said the industry is heading for doom because of the unavailability of fuel, which has become too expensive.
Operators at the meeting said their situation has been worsened by the Zambian illegal traders who were luring Zimbabwean fishermen into side trading for forex.
“The price of fuel is about $90 000 a litre and fish is sold for $80 000 a kg, making fishing not viable,” a Kapenta Fisheries spokesman said. “Several companies are not going to start fishing after the October full moon until something changes.”
The spokesman said some companies have been forced to close because of huge losses they are incurring in their operations.
“Most companies are operating a huge loss and holding on to their fish in the hope that the price would improve. Zambezi Fisheries has already closed and paid their workers up to the end of December,” he said.
The stakeholders said the illegal selling of fresh kapenta on the lake has risen to account for up to 50% of the catches as the security personnel fail to procure fuel to patrol the lake and reduce side-trading.
Stakeholders also said some of the fishing companies were likely to be pushed out of business by the ever-rising licensing fees that being charged by the Department of National Parks. A fishing licence currently costs $15 million for a year and there are fears that it could rise to $20 million by next year.