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Fish protection areas under threat from poachers

Fish protection areas under threat from poachers

Staff Reporter
THE protection of fish Namibia’s perennial rivers against large scale illegal fishing activities that threatens to wipe out certain species and training fish monitors from the community need all the help it can get to continue with the conservancy project run by the Bhukalo Traditional Authority.
In this regard FNB Namibia, through the FirstRand Namibia Foundation Trust has supported the Sikunga Fish Protection project in Zambezi with a total amount of N$775 000 to curb illegal fishing over the next three years.
The application was submitted to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources by were recognised legally as fish protection areas.
The Sikunga and Kasaya Channels are shallow backwaters of the Zambezi River where fish spawn during specific times of the year and are important ecological areas to replenish fish populations in the main river. The areas adjacent to the channels usually flood seasonally but the channels themselves remain clear and link to the river.

Pictured: Fish monitors Bernard Sikwana, Obby Sifaya, Morrison Melida and Nelson Ndopu, with Allan Matengu of FNB, Willem Steenkamp and Lappies Laubscher. Photo Contributed

As part of the successful application to turn the Sikunga channel into a reserve, the conservancy is under the obligation to conduct patrols and train fish monitors. These functions have developed to the level where the conservancy now fields 15 fish monitors acting as guardians of the reserve.
It is their job to prevent or detect any illegal activity of which the most pressing problem is the pervasive fishing with especially mosquito nets by residents of the area. The free distribution of mosquito nets as a preventive measure against malaria has become the biggest challenge in the fight against fish poaching because they are designed and distributed to save human lives.
The Sikunga Protection project is supported by the Sikunga Conservancy, Masubia Traditional Authority and various Tourism Enterprises. The area represents a small part of the Zambezi River where the fish stocks are protected. This is eight kilometres stretch of the river and backwaters where fish are protected and allowed to breed undisturbed.
“FNB, through our FirstRand Namibia Foundation Trust is committed to environmental guardianship in our country, and has over the last year, been involved in more than 14 projects, where environmental guardianship has been the focus. We want to thank the team of Sikunga Fish Protection for their hard work and for playing an active role in the guardianship of our environment, particularly in Zambezi River ecosystem”, said Allan Matengu, FNB Branch Manager, Katima Mulilo.
Dgini Visser of the Gondwana Care Trust said during the ceremonial handover of the funds: “Conservation of our natural resources is only possible when like-minded organizations and communities work together to preserve these resources. The Gondwana Care Trust is sincerely thankful to FNB Namibia and FirstRand Namibia Foundation Trust for its generous contribution towards the Fish Protection Project in the Sikunga Conservancy.’
According to Visser the Sikunga Fish Guards play an important role as stewards of the Zambezi River, particularly the Sikunga Fish Protection Area, which protects fish stocks for future generations.
“The support of FNB Namibia will go a long way in securing resources for the fish guards to execute their mandate. The Gondwana Care Trust will ensure that its partnership with FNB Namibia and the Sikunga Fish Guards is sustainable and conveys a lasting positive impact on the communities of the Zambezi Region,” Visser said.

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