Biological break, or fish stocking to introduce new fish species (supplement reproduction) is a major management protocol used to increase fishery yields on Rwanda’s Lake Kivu. Usually, enforced breaks aim to check illegal fishing that leads to overfishing and threatens depletion of fish.
This week, fishing of Sardine fish on Lake Kivu has resumed after two months halted for the biological break, only fishermen with standard fishing nets dubbed ‘Ikyerekezo” were allowed to resume.
According to Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), fishing resumed on October 13.
However, some fish poachers frequently disregard suspension protocols, undercutting the intended outcomes.
“We have got many mature fish. Before, we could fish all, whether immature or not, and that of course leads to scarcity,” Sued Barigora, Chairperson of COPEDEP fishing cooperative said.
“We closed fishing on the Lake for the Sardine fish to mature. It is a difficult moment for people who earn a living on fishing, but it increases the fish production and also gets mature fish,” he added.
He pointed out that fishers were advised to use 9mil meters and 10milimeters fishing gear for them to fish only mature fish.
A kilogram of Sardine fish that had reached Rwf6000 has now dropped to Rwf2500 in some parts of the western province, according to Barigora.
By 2024, Rwanda’s need for fish is anticipated to exceed 112,000 tonnes, meaning the nation may need to continue importing fish for a while. Currently, it imports around 15,000 tonnes annually.
Sardine production is intended to quadruple, but fishing breaches continue to threaten the aim, which is mainly to blame for the loss of a significant amount of sardine fish over the past year.
“Establishing standard fishing gears is amazing. They will protect biodiversity. We hope we shall not see substandard fishing gears; they lead to over-fishing and eventually we feel the pain of the scarcity,” Issa Gahimano said.