Understanding the immensely complex patterns and processes underlying Lake Tanganyika's fisheries clearly requires a broad, ecosystem-wide perspective. Yet the lake's vast size and remoteness can pose considerable logistical difficulties for the conduct of comprehensive, basin-scale physical and biological investigations or any other fisheries-related studies. Modern political boundaries dividing the lake between the different national sectors of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, and Zambia add a further dimension of complication to the organisational picture.
Episodes of civil strife have also made for extremely difficult operating conditions over recent decades. Difficulties notwithstanding, a great deal of information has accumulated over the years on the geology, limnology, species composition, and other aspects of the lake and its fisheries. Pioneering studies date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and extensive work of varying degrees of scale and ambition and covering a wide range of disciplines has since been carried out through numerous special projects and expeditions.
Considerable initiatives have been taken from the early 1960s in fisheries research, technical assistance, and institution building within the Lake Tanganyika basin, under the new national development agenda of the post-independence era. However, these have mostly been organized as piecemeal, country-specific projects. Though of potential benefit to particular national sectors and resource user interest groups, from a regional point of view they have tended with few exceptions to operate in separate and uncoordinated ways. Recognition of the need to bolster regional integration of fisheries management efforts on the lake led to the preparation of a draft project document and its tabling at the First Session of the CIFA Sub-Committee for Lake Tanganyika in 1978. This initiative was followed up through a series of draft revisions culminating in the establishment of LTR.
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