Fish Patrols During Lockdown

26 May 2020

Dirk Heinrich 

People thought that during the countrywide lockdown the law-enforcement officials would be too busy controlling roadblocks, border posts and towns to see that inhabitants stick to the rules and regulations under the COVID-19 emergency and would neglect other law-enforcement duties. Namibians and foreigners in the northeast of the country soon found out, that that is not the case. 

Combined patrols of the Namibian Police (NamPol), Namibian Defence Force (NDF) and officials of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources managed to arrest in just two days 16 Zambians who had illegal crossed the border into Namibia, confiscated 505 kilograms of fresh small fish, 15 kg of dried small fish, 14 mosquito nets used for fishing and 12 monofilament fishing nets. The Zambians originated from Livinstone 160 km away and were fishing in the floodplains in eastern Zambezi region next to the mighty Zambezi.  

The Zambians were not only charged for illegally entering the country but also for violating the lockdown rules of the country, illegal fishing and illegal fishing with mosquito nets. The officials of NamPol, NDF and Fisheries patrolled the main river and adjacent floodplains with boats since large areas are covered with water. The confiscated fish was given to vulnerable people and used for food for inmates at the police station in Katima Mulilo. 

During further patrols by vehicles and boats a large number of mosquito nets were confiscated from Namibians and their catch taken. All nets were burned. 

With a lot of water flowing into the floodplains in eastern Zambezi region, a lot of small fish are moving into the shallow warm waters of the low lying areas where the young and small fish find food and protection. Often the illegal nets are set up at culverts where the fish find their way into the floodplains. Hundreds of kilograms of Straighfin barb, Beira barb and banded tilapia as well as other species are caught illegal. 

The officials did not only patrol the Maningimanzi area at Lisikili but other areas near the Zambezi too and moved across to the Chobe and the adjacent flood areas there to. A large part of the communities in the area depend on fish but these have to be caught within the rules and regulations of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and now people have to follow the rules and regulations of the state of emergency and COVIC-19. These strict laws and regulations will be implemented by the law enforcement agencies. 

Sustainable use of the renewable natural resources is important for the communities, tourism and the environment. 

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