Luapula Province Minister Nixon Chilangwa says the three months fish ban period is not enough to allow breeding.

Featuring on ZNBC’s Government Forum yesterday, Chilangwa said there was need to increase the ban period because it would also encourage people to resort to alternative activities for their survival.

“I don’t believe that the three months fish-ban period is adequate, I believe we need a longer period and we do not have to close off all the water bodies. As you know, Luapula Province has got over 30 per cent of the water resource of this country. So we can segment to say this river or this lake and so on, we can close them for six months or we can close in some areas for a year so that the fish can regenerate and once the fish regenerates in the water bodies that we are likely to close, what we can do is to alternate the water bodies that were left open then can be closed but once we open the water bodies which were closed for a number of months or years,” Chilangwa said.

“After that is done, then we can put regulations to say where somebody goes to fish using a mosquito net, it is a crime and you can go to jail for that. We should also make it clear to say that we should not leave the water bodies in the manner that we have done, we need to have constant patrols on our rivers and lakes so that those who are doing wrong things can be brought to book.”

Chilangwa also said he wanted to introduce commercial fishing methods in Luapula Province.

“We also want to bring in commercial fishing where we can bring in cages on the rivers and the lakes so that there is commercial fishing taking place in the rivers and lakes of Luapula province like we have in Siavonga and like the fish that we are getting from Zimbabwe or from China and other places where they have engaged in commercial fishing. So we want to start that kind of fishing this year and we have identified 19 sites in Luapula province on the Luapula fisheries where fish caging will be done,|” Chilangwa said.

“And if we manage to commercialize fish in the 19 sites that we have identified, we will attract people to come and lead this and they will able to see if we have been doing the role as we speak now because we have given money to some individuals to start fish caging. Then the other thing is for us to start considering fish farming as a personal venture where we can have people growing fish at their back yards and if we can have many households growing fish on a family level just in the same manner people keep goats and chickens, we want it to be a tradition which we must inculcate in our people. Apparently Luapula people most of them have been fishermen from time immemorial so it is a skill that they already have.”

Chilangwa noted that government had failed the people of Luapula in the past.

“If we go back to our books in history, you will find that Luapula Province was the third biggest economy in this country just running after Lusaka and the Copperbelt Provinces and what was driving that economy was the fishing industry. But that has actually changed because of population explosion and bad fishing methods and due to lack of political will on our part as government. In the past and I am including the PF because where I come from they say ‘Mupyanango apyana namabala’, meaning that when you inherit a leopard, you also inherit its dark spots. So when you inherit governance it means you do not only inherit the good things that have been achieved in the past but also the negatives,” Chilangwa said.

“So that’s what we are saying that as government there are certain things we failed to put in place in the past so what happened is, because of bad fishing methods amongst ourselves as people from Luapula Province, we have over fished our rivers and our lakes and as government, we have no will to ensure that we put in measures to ensure that we implement sustainable ways of fishing. And as PF government, we have realised that if the economy of Luapula province was able to be pushed to that level during those early years, it is possible that it can also happen now. What we have to do is to put in measures that can curb the vice.”

Meanwhile, Chilangwa said the only way to reduce poverty in Luapula Province was to start making efforts to improve the economy at household level so that people did not depend on handouts.

“The poverty levels in Luapula Province are very high and even though we have a lot of people helping us, I do not believe personally that hand outs can actually reduce poverty levels, my great belief is that poverty can only be reduced by economic performance. If we have economic performance at individual level, at household level, community, district and institutional level, then we are going to start making some real strides in ensuring that we start reducing poverty levels. So we have to look at the infrastructure availability in the province, what infrastructure do we have in the province and what infrastructure do we need in the province? So that we can use it as a platform for development, so we have to look at all those things to come up with a basis of what we need to do in the Province,” said Chilangwa.