Government officials, fish industry captains, civil society and private sector representatives gathered in Harare today to start consultations on the first of its kind legislation described as an economic milestone to bolster the development and sustainability of Zimbabwe’s fisheries and aquaculture industry.
Strengthening the legal framework is part of Zimbabwe’s efforts to develop its nascent aquaculture sector and transform it into a driver of economic growth and source of employment. The fisheries bill would be the first of its kind and is described as a milestone of great economic importance that could pave way for investments in the sector. This endeavour is in line with the government thrust of streamlining legislation and improving the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe.
“The current regulatory framework is impeding growth and investment in this sector as the cost of compliance is too high with farmers and investors having to part with numerous levies to separate government departments. Development of the bill is expected to bring all regulations addressing aquaculture production and conservation under one roof,” said Honourable Davis Marapira, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development (MoLAFWRD) presenting his policy direction remarks during the meeting.
Provisions in the current legal framework on fisheries and aquaculture are scattered and there is an urgent need to unify legislation in one Act canvassing the sector provisions while promoting sustainable development of the industry.
An assessment of Zimbabwe’s tilapia sector to identify challenges restricting growth and formulating an upgrading strategy conducted by FISH4ACP and the Chinhoyi University of Technology between 2021 and 2022 also found that the legal framework was a key issue for improvement.
FISH4ACP, a global fish value chain development initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is now supporting Zimbabwe’s MoLAFWRD to develop a fisheries and aquatic bill, which will see the harmonisation of various pieces of legislation relating to the fisheries sector in the country.
“FAO has engaged its top legal experts to support the development of the fisheries bill. I’m convinced that it will result in increased investment and production in the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the country,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa and Representative to Zimbabwe in a speech read on his behalf by Louis Muhigirwa, FAO Deputy Representative to Zimbabwe.
More than 40 Government officials, fish industry captains, civil society, private sector gathered in Harare for the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill Consultations Inception Meeting. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the framework for developing the fisheries and aquatic resources bill, while also building consensus among stakeholders on the process of developing the bill.
“Aquaculture investments are long-term, spanning many years. Policies that are used to lure investors must be anchored on 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.
The participants agreed on a roadmap for a consultative process involving stakeholders across the sector. A team of legal experts from the legal division of the attorney general’s office and the FAO’s legal division will assist in collecting views and compiling the draft bill, prior to validation by the stakeholders. Eventually, the bill will be considered for debate in parliament and ascension to law by the end of the year 2023.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.