Small-scale fisheries and aquaculture have come to employ over 41 million people all over the world, with the majority of those people in developing countries. Many people and their communities have benefitted from joining the growing industry, especially as capture fisheries increasingly reach their capacity. For maize-dependent, malnourished communities in rural Zambia, a lack of diversified income and adequate sources of nutrition has created a vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition. Zambia produces the largest amount of fish produce in sub-Saharan Africa, but the reach of fish production has yet to take root in many rural communities. People do not yet have the money or awareness to pursue alternate sources of income and nourishment, but there is massive potential for small-scale fisheries in rural Zambia, and the benefits a family-owned fish farm reach beyond the household to the surrounding community.
Fish are a healthy source of protein and nutrition. It is a great addition to starch-based diets, which is one of the problems facing rural Zambians. As a result of the corn monocrop, people consume maize without many other sources of nutrition in their diet. Consuming fish provides amino acids that improve the protein found in vegetables, and fatty acids, which are essential for brain and body development. This makes fish invaluable for babies, children, and pregnant and lactating women. The consumption of fish is also beneficial for people with HIV, as proper nutrition supports the effectiveness of anti-retroviral drugs. The rural poor who farm fish for subsistence tend to consume more small, low-value fish, which provide more minerals when consumed in their entirety than the same quantity of meat or large fish.
Fish has become the source of over half of people’s protein consumption in countries like Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Ghana. Many rural Zambians rely on unstable sources of food which contribute to seasonal hunger and poverty. Family-owned pond cultures have become a sustainable method to produce fish throughout the year so that families will not be as affected by a bad crop. It is also a more efficient use of land and resources than raising cattle or pork. Land that is used to grow fish produces ten times more consumable product than the amount of cattle or pork that would be produced by the same area of land; and fish farming requires less input than raising cattle or pork.
Most rivers and lakes in Zambia carry good stocks of fish, giving very reasonable sport. Anglers must be prepared to travel long distances over rough roads, carrying his own camp equipment and finally making his camp beside the river he intends to fish, but this is half the fun isn’t it?
There are very few hotels off the main roads, and fewer still in fishing areas, though the Tourist Board is conducting a successful drive for more hotels and rest houses, particularly the lodges in the National Parks, where good fishing is to be had on the rivers.
For parties who appreciate camping holidays in the bush, some delightful trips can be planned, particularly in August and September, when there is little fear of rain and the nights are warm enough to make camping pleasant.
Most of the rivers are either heavily wooded right down to the water or are swamp-edged, so the addition of a boat and outboard motor to the camp equipment is a sound policy. On the other hand, canoes and paddlers can be hired, and the latter are usually good guides to the best fishing grounds. Youths are also very helpful as camp attendants, and little trouble is normally experienced in hiring one or two to take care of the heavy work of the camp.
The visiting fisherman must remember that the hippopotamus and crocodile are found in nearly all Zambian waters. Wading in rivers can be a dangerous pastime, and hippos, especially with calves, should be given a wide berth. An insecticide spray against tsetse fly and a malarial prophylactic are recommended.
Zambia is known for the excellent annual fishing competition on Lake Tanganyika.