Botswana: New System for Commercial Fishing
Maun — In an effort to control and regulate commercial fishing in the Okavango Delta, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks through the Fisheries Unit has introduced a new system where a raffle will be conducted and the winners issued with licences.
An official from the Fisheries Unit, Mr Choto Choto revealed in a meeting that due to the high number of applications for commercial fishing, his department had to make an administrative decision to control the number of licences and population of fish.
He said the department also took the decision to demarcate the delta into seven fishing zones and that each zone was allocated quotas.
It was reported that zoning and allocation of quotas were based on scientific research and models.
The zones were developed by grouping villages together looking at accessible fishing grounds.
Mr Choto also explained that key stakeholders were consulted about the new arrangement, and that they appreciated it as they were also concerned about the uncontrolled issuing of licences and environmental challenges brought by the fishermen.
He pointed out that the lack of control over fishing areas and number of licences led to difficulties in monitoring activities, adding that congestion of fishermen also affected farmers due to high infections of measles.
Moreover, Mr Choto explained that the delta was a sensitive area and that issues of the environment and conservation needed to be taken into consideration to ensure the value and beauty of the delta was maintained.
During the meeting, it was reported that the office had received over 3 000 applications and that the deadline was the 31/03/17 while the quota was 356. The quotas were approximately 12 per cent of the total applications.
Meanwhile, a raffle committee has been formed under the Maun Administrative Authority to lead the raffle exercise scheduled for April 10 at the main kgotla.
Another raffle will be conducted at the Okavango Sub-district on a date to be set by Okavango authorities.
Raffle guidelines for issuance to commercial fishing licences has been developed. The committee, led by an official from the district commissioner's office, is working around the clock to ensure transparency and fairness during the raffle day.
Mr Choto said winning applicants who would go against the Fisheries Act (1975) or the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act (1992) shall be automatically disqualified.
Applicants are entitled to fish in one zone and if one has applied for two zones, the first win would be given and thereafter, any subsequent wins in other zones would be disqualified.
By Esther Mmolai