Aquaculture research in Zimbabwe is the responsibility of the Branch of Aquatic Ecology in the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management. The branch controls eight research stations, each led by an ecologist supported by a ranger/ technician and fish scouts. The responsibilities of the stations vary with the location of each station and the interests of the ecologists concerned. The research at the eight stations is coordinated at the head office in Harare which has 14 officers and 10 technical officers.
Lake Kariba Fisheries Research Institute, Kariba, Mashonaland West Province
This is the largest of the eight fisheries research stations. It was opened by the FAO when the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was in existence. The station today enjoys a semi-autonomous status, and is assisted by DANIDA and NORAD. It has a well-equipped laboratory, and each officer is provided with a desktop computer. It has one fisheries research vessel; another is under construction.
The institute is headed by a PhD scientist whose doctoral thesis was on Lake Kariba. He leads a team of four ecologists who hold MSc degrees in fisheries management or a related field. Current research projects relate to inshore fisheries in fished and unfished zones to determine biomass and species diversity; the biology of the Synodontus zambezensis; age determination of the Limnothrissa miodon; pre-recruitment biology and post-recruitment biology of the L.miodon.
Nyanga trout research station, Nyanga, Manicaland Province
Located in Nyanga, 100 km from Mutare city, this station was opened in the early '50s. The main aim was to grow trout to stock lakes of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management for recreational fishing.
The rainbow trout (Salmo mykiss), imported from the U S, is the main species propagated, following the failure of two other species (Salmo trutta and Salvenilius fontinalisi) to establish themselves. More recently, trout have been imported from the Isle of Man or Tasmania.
Research at the station has focused on vigour of fingerlings, disease resistance, tolerance to high temperatures and feed quality. The station has reasonably good laboratory facilities including a desktop computer.
The station is headed by an ecologist who holds a B Sc (Hons) degree in biological science. She is to undergo further training in aquaculture, particularly on trout breeding and nutrition. The ecologist is assisted by two Rangers/Technicians, and by 10 fish scouts and 15 labourers.
Lake McIlwaine Fisheries Research Station, Harare, Mashonaland East Province
This station was established in 1971 following the transfer of fisheries staff from the Henderson fish section of the Henderson Research Station. The Henderson fish section was closed when the government transferred the responsibility for fisheries research and development from the Ministry of Agriculture to the then Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Tourism. The station has since been renamed Lake Chivero Fisheries Research Station.
The station was mandated to continue research in fish breeding, fisheries research and development relating to Lake Chivero. The research established the ecology of the benethic fauna and the limnology of the lake as a basis for fisheries management at the lake. But the monitoring of the limnology and the fishery has recently declined in emphasis, and attention has focused mainly on fish breeding.
The station is headed by an ecologist, who is assisted by two rangers/technicians, five scouts and five labourers. Laboratory facilities are scanty. There is no computer. Current research focuses on the fry production potential of Oreochromis macrochir.
The ecologist is also helping establish a mass-scale fry production hatchery with assistance from DANIDA for the grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella. It is hoped that the results here will help introduce this fish in Lake Manyame, which is infested with oxygen weed.
Lake Sebakwe Fisheries Research Station, Kwekwe, Midlands Province
Located at Lake Sebakwe, this station was opened in 1987. It is headed by an ecologist currently being trained in the U S in fisheries management. She is assisted by a ranger trained locally at the Mushandike Wildlife College. He in turn is assisted by three fish scouts and two labourers. The station has no laboratory as such. It has a few ponds; current research work is on the fry production potential of Oreochromis macrochir.
The ecologist is also responsible for monitoring fisheries management in all the small water bodies in Midlands Province, and for recreational fishing within the Serbakwe Recreational Park.
Lake Mutirikwi Fisheries Station, Masvingo Province
This is the second oldest fisheries station in the country, after Lake Kariba. It is situated within the L. Mutirikwi Recreational Park. The station is responsible for fisheries management within the park waters -- Lake Mutrikwi itself and all fisheries in reservoirs outside the park and within Masvingo province. The station is also responsible for monitoring, regulating and administering recreational fishing within park waters and for encouraging and promoting aquaculture development within the province.
The station is headed by a senior ecologist who holds an MSc in Aquaculture. He is assisted by an ecologist who conducts research on natural recovery rates of large reservoirs. He also monitors and evaluates fisheries management programmes within and outside the Parks and Wildlife Estate. Other staff include a fisheries technician, six fish scouts and seven labourers.
Current research by the station -- carried out on its own premises and at private farms -- is on integrated fish-cum-livestock farming. The station's ecologist examines the performance of three cichlid fishes including the exotic Oreochromis nilotica both at the station and off the station.
Bulawayo branch of aquatic ecology, Matabeleland Province
This station is based in Bulawayo, pending its relocation at Insiza dam within Mayfair Recreational Parks about 120 km outside the city. Established in 1981, the station is responsible for fisheries research, development and management within two provinces, i.e. Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North. It is sufficiently equipped for fisheries research (the station has a boat, a trailer, a vehicle and nets) but not for field studies in limnology. No meaningful aquaculture research development is being carried out at present, and there is no laboratory. Water quality tests are carried out by the City Council Laboratories, which are well-equipped for the purpose.
The station is headed by an ecologist well-trained in limnology. (He holds a diploma in limnology from Austria, besides a university degree in chemistry and zoology.) He has a few technical assistants and labourers to help him.
Current research at the station is on the limnology of the Insiza dam.
Matopo National Parks, Bulawayo, Matabeleland Province
This station, which is under the Branch of Aquatic Ecology, is at Maleme dam. It was opened early 1950 as part of Matopos National Park. It is responsible for monitoring recreational fishing within the park waters. There are seven small reservoiirs in the parks stocked with the bass micropterus salmoides.
The station is headed by an ecologist assisted by a technician, two fish scouts and a labourer. The station has a laboratory building that is ill-equipped for limnological work but adequately equipped to carry out fisheries research.
No research is ongoing at the moment. Concluded research includes the biology of the yellowfish Barbus marequensis and Barbus mattozi and the limnology of small reservoirs within the park.
Fish Section, Henderson Research Station, Mazowe, Mashonaland East Province
The Henderson Research Station is under the Department of Research and Specialist Services within the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management has seconded an ecologist to assist in re-opening the fish section as an aquaculture research station. This assistance is consequent to a request by a FAO/TCP project to rehabilitate the fish section.
Current research at the station is on integrated fish-cum-pig culture. Research has been concluded on fry production of Oreochromis mossambicus.