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New bill to strengthen fisheries and aquaculture in Zimbabwe

FISH4ACP helps Southern African nation to develop first of its kind legislation

9 May 2023, Harare – Government officials, fish industry captains, civil society and private sector representatives have launched consultations on a new fisheries and aquaculture bill for Zimbabwe. Hailed as a first of its kind piece of legislation, the bill marks a milestone in efforts by the Southern African nation to bolster its fisheries and aquaculture industry.

 “This bill is expected to bring all regulations on aquaculture production and conservation under one roof,” said Honourable Davis Marapira, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development at a meeting in Harare that marked the start of consultations on the new law. He added: “The current regulatory framework is impeding growth and investment. The cost of compliance is too high for farmers, while investors are facing too many levies to government departments.”

Strengthening the legal environment is part of Zimbabwe’s efforts to transform its fisheries and aquaculture sectors into drivers of economic growth and job creation. The new bill would be the first of its kind and falls in line with the government thrust of improving the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe. 

The meeting in Harare was organised by FISH4ACP, a global aquatic value chain development initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), supporting Zimbabwe towards a productive, expanding and sustainable tilapia aquaculture sector that contributes to poverty reduction, improving food security and stimulating economic growth.

FISH4ACP, implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), started work in Zimbabwe by assessing the tilapia sector and identified the legal framework as a key area for improvement. 

Now, with an upgrading strategy for the tilapia value chain in place, FISH4ACP first steps towards a more productive and sustainable value chain include its support to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development in developing a fisheries and aquaculture bill.   

“I’m convinced that this bill will result in increased investment and production in Zimbabwe’s fisheries and aquaculture sector,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa and Representative to Zimbabwe in a speech read at the meeting on his behalf by Louis Muhigirwa, FAO Deputy Representative to Zimbabwe. 

More than 40 government officials, fish industry captains, civil society, private sector came together in Harare to discuss the framework and the process of developing the bill. They agreed on a roadmap for consultations involving stakeholders across the sector.

“Policies that are used to attract investors must be anchored in a sound and enabling legal framework which a fisheries and aquaculture Act will provide in line with global best practices,” said Garikai Munatsirei, Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Fish Producers Association. 

A team of legal experts from the legal division of Zimbabwe’s attorney general’s office and FAO’s legal division will assist in compiling the draft bill, prior to validation by the stakeholders. It is expected that the bill will be considered for debate in parliament and ascension to law by the end of 2023.