Barely four months after the controversial suspension of fishing activities at Lake Ngami by Ministry of environment, Wildlife and Tourism fishermen have invaded Lake Ngami as fish from the lake continue to be sold in the local market.
The patrol team consisting of Botswana Defense Force, Botswana Police and Wildlife officials to control illegal fishing at the lake is failing as it is struggling to control illegal fishing. District leadership such as Dikgosi have expressed displeasure about continuous illegal fishing.
Kgosi Boitelo Dithapo of Sehithwa village said that illegal fishing is a major concern in the area and revealed that they receive more than three cases of illegal fishing almost every week in their customary court. However some District leaders have expressed mixed views about the issue with some saying the fine is too low and need to be tightened. Fishing was suspended because the Ministry has unresolved issues that needed to be ironed, such as littering, illegal fishermen and others that pose a threat to the environment.
Last month 32 cases of illegal fishing were recorded around the lake.
Perpetrators are charged under the Fish Protectors Regulations of Section 3 of Fish protection Act and are charged P200 for admission of guilt and they can be sentenced to three months imprisonment. Dithapo said the fine needs to be amended to be stiffer than the current one to curb the illegal fishing that is skyrocketing in the area. Ngamiland District Wildlife Coordinator, Bolt Othomile said offenders take advantage of the fact that the area they are managing is wide and full of water. Othomile said they are assuming that people communicate with the offenders about the patrolling team, adding that their intention is not to arrest anyone but to prevent the illegal fishing.
He said they are waiting for the approval of the fishing penalty which they expect to be much stiffer. Officer commanding for Ngamiland, Senior Supt. Chabaesele Kesupetswe was unhappy about the escalating cases of illegal fishing in the area. He said that most of the ofdfenders are from Maun and not from the areas surrounding the lake.