From its rural landscapes to bustling fishing camps, Zambia’s reliance on agriculture and aquaculture for sustenance and economic growth is evident. In fact, while the region boasts abundant water bodies, the fishing industry serves as the backbone of economic stability for many Zambian communities.

Navigating through fishing bans

Fish bans are enforced to protect fish stocks during breeding seasons or periods of ecological vulnerability. Despite the importance of this measure in ensuring the sustainability of aquatic resources available to the communities, it becomes very difficult for members to sustain their livelihoods when these restrictions are imposed.

Because of this, these fishers need to find other ways to make money and learn how to fish sustainably. In the face of these challenges, ActionAid Zambia, with support from Ecofish, set out to turn the tide.

Leading the way 

Taking the reins, traditional leaders were able to nurture tighter bonds between ActionAid Zambia and the government.

During meetings held in Kafue District’s fishing camps, Mambo Tembo, the Project Officer of ActionAid Zambia, delivered a compelling message urging fishers to diversify their income sources, steering them away from legal entanglements. Meanwhile, in the Lusaka Province, Fisheries Officer Muyangali Kagoli painted a hopeful picture. He claimed that the ActionAid Zambia sustainable Fisheries Management Project, funded by the European Union, was going to reduce the economic hardships faced by the fishers during the fish ban. He underlined that it would also upgrade the management of the fishery areas in the respective fishing communities.

Palpable change

Thanks to the Zambia Small Scale Fisheries (ZSSF) – supported by ActionAid Zambia – along with the help of traditional leaders and of the government, a transformative journey unfolded… The fishing community got introduced to sustainable fisheries management with a human rights-based approach. Members were given proper education and resources. Empowered, they were finally able to enhance their livelihoods.

This project ignited a spark of change in the fishing communities.There was less poverty – dropping by at least 10% – and enhanced gender equity among fishers. The majority of fishermen, approximately 70%, also embraced the principles of sustainable fishing. Moreover, a considerable number of community leaders received training in FAO guidelines. There’s been a substantial rise in the number of people in fishing committees as well.

The project not only strengthened relations between stakeholders but also built the capacity of local partners. With enhanced visibility and newfound collaborations, the groundwork is now laid out for sustainable development in Zambia’s fishing industry.

As the fishing communities of Zambia embrace sustainable practices thanks to ActionAid Zambia and Ecofish, they not only secure their livelihoods but also chart a course towards a thriving future for the next generations.