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Why Zimbabwe’s ‘great river people’ feel cut off from their trade by Farai Matiashe September 21,2021   |  Source: Al Jazeera

The Batonga tribe of Zimbabwe traditionally made their living fishing along the Zambezi River and Lake Kariba. But expensive permits and national fishing industry regulations are impeding their way of life.

Fishing has been a part of the community for generations. But in recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for many to make it out onto the river at all. The reason: fishing permits.

A fishing permit is a legally mandated licence, renewable every three or 12 months, that commercial fishermen are required to have to fish in the Zambezi River. Issued by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), a state agency responsible for wildlife conservation in the country, the permits were introduced in 1990 in a bid to regulate the number of fishers, thus preventing overfishing and aiding conservation.

Those caught fishing without a licence can be fined $2,000 and have their boat impounded.

But the relatively high cost – $1,200 for a yearly permit, plus thousands of dollars to build a fishing rig that meets government regulations – and the limited number of permits handed out each year, has disproportionately benefitted wealthy fishers from the cities at the expense of communities like the Batonga, locals say.


Theme(s): Fisheries Development and Aquaculture.

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