Traders upbeat as ban on fishing is lifted

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Fish traders are content with the increase in fish production after the resumption of fishing activities on Lake Kivu.

After the temporary ban on fishing in the lake for two months known as ‘biological break’, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) said they are currently catching a total of 48.6 tons from five districts yet it was 3.9 tons before.

Traders whose livelihoods depend on fishing activities say that regulating these activities periodically helps to increase the stock of fish in the lake and hence more produce on the market.

Yvonne Murekatete, a member of Turwanyinzara Murwa cooperative in Nyamasheke District said the maximum amount that one team could catch before was 5 kilograms per night but that has significantly increased to 60 kilograms.

She, however, pointed out that the challenge they remain with is about poachers who go against regulations and carry out fishing activities during the break period.

Danny Ndekezi, president of the association of fishery cooperatives in Rutsiro District said there has been an increase in productivity and now people are joyful.

“The announcement (to resume) came out late in the night which caused some fisher mongers to miss out on the first night, where the total number of fish was 4.5 tons but today we got more than nine tons,” he said.

While they are mostly selling dried sardines to conserve them for the market because they easily decay when fresh, he said “the prices have also dropped from Rwf3000 per kilogram to Rwf1000, and in some places Rwf800.”

On the issue of some fisher mongers who say that the only legal fishing gears of 6mm are expensive, Solange Uwitonze, Deputy Director-General, RAB said traders should make the most of tax exemption and import them.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resource requested fisher mongers to replace their 5mm fishing gear with the 6mm ones by February 1.

Lake Kivu is home to various fish species, including sardines (Limnothrissa miodon, locally known as isambaza), tilapia, haplochromis (known locally as indugu).

Rwanda’s demand for fish is estimated to reach 112,000 tons by 2024 while it currently imports an estimated 15,000 tons a year.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com