Cheap fish imports rock the boat for locals

Kapenta fish traders have urged the government to protect the local industry from cheap and poor quality kapenta imports from Cahora Bassa in Mozambique.

Foreign fish exporters have flooded the market with kapenta imports, threatening the viability of local producers and traders.

Abraham Jassat, the managing director of JASBRO Foods, a leading Bulawayo kapenta dealer, suggested that there should be prohibitive duty on imported fish products.

“There is need for the government to revise upwards duty tariffs for all imported products, including kapenta, which threatens the viability of local products.”

Jassat said his company usually bought kapenta from Binga dealers but in times of scarcity, had been forced to buy the imported Cahora Bassa kapenta.

Jassat admitted that some of the kapenta imported from the neighbouring country was of poor quality because of shoddy post-harvest handling and processing.

“Some of the imported kapenta has got sand particles in it and some is contaminated by bird and rodent droppings,” he said.

The managing director also urged both the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments to curb overfishing in the Zambezi and the practice of landing undersized and poor quality fish.

“There is an urgent need for the two governments to harmonise their stock protection laws and policies. Zambia seems to have weak fishing control policies, which are fuelling poaching and informal fish trade,” he said.

Peter Ndlovu, a lecturer in the department of commerce at the National

University of Science and Technology, said the challenges facing the

kapenta industry were a reflection of a problem affecting almost every sector.

“We need to interrogate why are our local products are more expensive than imports,” he said.

Ndlovu said most fisheries were using expensive and outdated fishing methods, which ultimately led to higher prices. He also bemoaned the exorbitant fishing permit fees charged by the department of national parks and wild life. It costs local residents $5 each to fish in Kariba dam a day, and non-residents are charged $10.

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