Questioning the Relevance of Existing Fishing Regulations: Examples from Lake Kariba

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"Fisheries management and the regulations on which it is based have mainly been premised on the values of positivistic science with its strong emphasis on rationality and impartiality. Positivistic science tend to portray the universe as mechanistic and deterministic and its workings as being governed by a few fundamental and unvarying laws. Based on these laws scientists can derive regulations that inform the manner in which a particular natural resource such as fish should be exploited to ensure the sustainability of the stocks. However, the implementation and enforcement of these regulations have to fit into the political and economic rationality of a state in which they emerge and these rationalities may be at variance with those of science. The purpose of this paper is to explore the reasons for the type of fisheries regulations that emerged in Zambia and Zimbabwe. It will be shown that although there were attempts to justify the regulations with reference to scientific principles, the regulations had to fit the political and economic interests of their respective states as well as they reflected the dominating representations and images of the man-nature relationship that prevailed among the agents of the states. This resulted in conflicts between fishermen and government agents and ambiguity in implementing the regulations. Using examples from Lake Kariba the paper shows how efforts to develop uniform fishing regulations for the fishery of the man-made lake were not successful because of fundamentally different state interests towards fish and fisheries in the two countries... "One of the most noticeable relationships between game and fisheries is the manner in which these resources have been managed especially in a southern African context. In most African countries game and fisheries have been managed under the same bureaucratic institution. But much more fundamentally is the similarity in the regulations defining the way in which they are accessed and utilised. The scientific arguments that had been used to develop game laws were transferred to the way the fisheries sector would be regulated. Consequently, fisheries regulations emerged as an adjunct of the Game Laws. From 1925 the fisheries sector in Zambia was managed under various Game Laws until 1943 when the Fish Control Regulations Act was enacted. Similarly, in Zimbabwe the Game Laws that were introduced in 1891 were also applicable to fish until 1938 when a section specifically dealing with fisheries was incorporated into the Game and Fish Amendment Act. In these various acts a fish was classified as an animal and fishing was perceived to be another form of 'hunting'."



IASC, common pool resources, fisheries, regulation, Lake Kariba