According to media reports in Mozambique, the Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters, and Fisheries has decided to suspend new fishing licenses in an attempt to combat biodiversity devastation by illicit fishers in the Cahora Bassa reservoir in the central province of Tete.
Despite efforts to prevent illegal fishing, the situation has worsened in recent years, according to Leonid Chimarizene, the Ministry’s Director of Operations. Authorities seek to stop the threat and ensure the fish’s sound and healthy growth.
The move, however, has unleashed an increase of illegal fishermen who also resort to harmful fishing gear, including mosquito nets that sweep away the larvae and juveniles, thus jeopardising the continuity of the species.
A joint operation carried out by the Ministry, the Tete Provincial Economic Activities Services, the Maritime Administration, and the coastal and inland water guards also seized three semi-industrial fishing vessels and 216 mosquito nets.
“Such practices represent a great risk for the communities who may not have fish in the future for their sustenance, and also pose an environmental and economic threat,” Chimarizene cautioned, adding that unspecified quantities of juvenile fish have been returned to the water, and fines of over two million meticais (about US$31,000) have been imposed.
To keep full control of the situation, authorities have declared “closed fishing”, which consists of allowing only a limited number of vessels onto the lake. The authorities will conduct further joint operations and cooperate with other entities at places such as markets and transit points.
Illegal fishing is a well-known problem at Cahora Bassa reservoir and in 2016/17 the authorities seized 70 vessels that are now for sale at public auction.