How Legal Fishing Gears improved Sambaza Fishing in Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is home to various fish species, including sardines (Limnothrissa miodon, locally known as isambaza), tilapia, haplochromis (known locally as indugu).  Despite of its nutritional and economic benefits to the surrounding communities, Fishing activities has been witnessing fish poaching.

Lake Kivu surrounding communities explain that poachers use mosquito nets to catch fish which even collect their eggs, and another illegal snare called Kaningini which catches Isambaza larvae, hence threatening the sustainability of fish production in the lake.

To crack down on the illicit fishing, The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources published the Ministerial order nº 001/11.30 of 11/12/2020 regulating aquaculture and fisheries.

In its article18th Article, the Ministerial Order clarifies authorized fishing gears in the following way:

1.for limnothrissa miodon: lift nets of at least six millimetres (mm 6) mesh size fixed on trimaran boats and lamps. Monofilament nets are prohibited.

2.for rastrineobola argentea: lift nets of at least five millimetres (mm 5) mesh size fixed on trimaran boats and lamps. Monofilament nets are prohibited.

3.for haplochromis: gill nets of more than one point five inch (1.5) or three point eight one centimetre (cm 3.81). monofilament nets are prohibited.

4.for tilapia and carp: gill nets of at least four inch (4) or ten point sixteen centimetres (cm 10.16) and more. Monofilament nets are prohibited.

5.clarias and protopterus: gill nets of at least six centimetres (cm 6) or long line hooks. Monofilament nets are prohibited.

Canoeing in groups of three boats, Rwanda’s fishermen spend every night out on the crystalline water searching for sardine fish.

Ndimubakunzi Florient is a fisherman, since his childhood, who lives in Nkombo Sector, Rusizi Distict. He says that he appreciates legal fishing nets that they use. Ndimubakunzi says that since he started using ICYEREKEZO fishing net (the authorized one), he now catches a clients-attractive sardine fish.

“I appreciate the snares that we use nowadays. Kaningini and Mosquito-net collect mature fishes, fingerlings and their eggs, except of fishing a non-client’s attractive sardines, fish poaching reduces fish stocks significantly, it can even uproot Sambaza in the lake completely. “- he said

He added that Icyerekezo net catches mature fishes different from substandard fishing nets which used to collect both mature fishes and their larvae. He further stressed that using legal traps resulted in a steady increasing of standard harvest and a long-time fishing comparing to a previous fishing in lake Kivu.

Beatrice Mukamana is a sardine fish vendor at the shores of lake Kivu in Karongi District, Western Province. She says that before the introduction of the standard fishing nets, there were a significant drop of fish production; but now the production has increased.

The shoreline of Lake Kivu in Rubavu District used to be a beehive and pathway of both legal and illegal activities.

Whereas fishing is legal in the lake, it was habitual for fishermen to use substandard and unauthorized fishing nets. They were a danger to the species. Today, however, it is a different story. It is a story of safe waters and standard fishing nets.

Mbarushimana Bashilu is a fisherman and a member of COOPILAKE – a union of fishermen operating in Rubavu District – said that they warmly welcomed the policy of using authorized fishing nets as it starts to bear fruits.

“We warmly welcomed the policy of using legal fishing gears. Since we started using them the production has augmented, for example we are getting at least 500 to one ton of fishes daily which was impossible to catch previously. We patern with security organs to make sure fish poaching is tackled.”- he said.

The Article 23 of the Ministerial order nº 001/11.30 of 11/12/2020 states that the fishing license can be suspended for a period of three months if the holder violates its usage for the first time, it can also be suspended for a period of one year if the holder violates its use for the second time or revoked.

VIDEO: How Legal Fishing Gears improved Sambaza Fishing in Lake Kivu

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