Maun community has condemned the decision by Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism to ban the exportation of dried fish.
The ban which was contained in the government gazette of March 10 left fishermen at Lake Ngami in misbelief as they had opened lucrative markets for their fish as far as DRC and Zambia.
Maun community argued that the banning of dry fish exportation should be concurrent with the fishing season, to give fishermen notice to effect on the ban.
Most surprising was that the Lake Ngami Conservation Trust which is empowered to control fishing activities at Lake Ngami was also not consulted on the decision. Many wondered why the fishing season was opened last month while they knew that they would shut down their markets.
The ban was announced through the statutory instrument No. 17 of 2017 in the Botswana government gazette published on March 10 2017 and signed by Minister Tshekedi Khama on February 17. In exercise of his powers conferred on him by Section 3 of the Fish Protection Act, he announced that no person shall export any dry fish produced from Botswana, the prohibition shall be for a period of 12 months.
Most of the 287 fishermen who were around Lake Ngami are fishing in remote areas where there is no electricity for storage of their perishable fresh fish, hence their preference for dried fish.
Cllr Maitiro Segosebe of Sehithwa village told the minister to suspend the ban on exportation of dried fish because the decision lacked proper consultations with the affected communities.
Segosebe said as the one of community leader of those affected communities no one ever consulted him about the decision. Lake Ngami Conservation Trust Manager, Galefele Maokeng said as a key stakeholder in the management of fisheries resources and perhaps the largest exporter of dried fish in the country, they are disappointed that they were not consulted on the decision.He said they feel that they should at least have been given prior notification. He said it was embarrassing when fishermen started asking them about the ban and “we had no idea about it.”Maokeng noted that since last week when they first became aware of the ban and duly informed their customers, their fish market in Sehithwa has shut down, as several fishermen have vacated fishing camps.
“We had set end of March as last date for those who have not yet paid their licence fees, now they are all coming forward to say they are unable to pay due to the uncertainty,” he said.
Another councillor Abel Molelo said the decision by the minister is disheartening and embarrassing, as most affected people were not consulted. He accused the minister of never consulting Maun residents but only Sankoyo and other surrounding villages.