Combating Climate Change. Fisheries and Aquaculture in Zambia

Academic Paper, 2016

18 Pages, Grade: 8.0/10


Table of contents




Climate change impacts on the environment and aquatic ecosystems in Zambia

Climate change impacts on fisheries in Zambia

Increase in average temperature

Primary Production

Other effects of climate change on fisheries in Zambia

Climate change impacts on aquaculture in Zambia


Policy framework and civil society participation in Climate Change awareness

Recommended climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies for Zambia and Sub- saharan Africa





The variability in climate has caused a lot of problems to both marine and fresh water aquatic ecosystems. These problems have spread to terrestrial ecosystems posing problems to fresh water aquaculture, forest ecosystems as well as agricultural ecosystems. Climate change has thus become a regional and global problem causing concerns over the preservation of these ecosystems for future generations. One the results of climate change is global warming. It has been predicted that between 2010 and 2070 the world surface temperatures will increase by between 10 C to 2.70 C. This impact will affect the world economically, socially, environmentally and ecologically. This paper reviews works by experts as well as national and international organizations on impacts of climate change on aquaculture and fisheries in Zambia. It seeks to investigate the methods of mitigating and adapting to climate change which the Zambian government and stake holder organizations have put in place and may be able to put in place.

Further the paper assesses the hindrances to adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts in Zambia.

Key words: wild capture fisheries, aquaculture, climate change, adaptation, mitigation


Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, neighboring the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the North, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west. The capital is Lusaka in the south- central part of the country. Currently the total population is estimated to be 15.5 million. Most of the population is concentrated in the Lusaka and the copperbelt province which are the economic hubs of the country.

Zambia with a total land mass area of 752,618 km2 , has 15 million hectares of water in the form of rivers, lakes and swamps, which provide the basis for extensive freshwater fisheries. Demand for domestic fish for consumption however still outstrips production.

According to Fishakathon (2016), though Zambia is a landlocked country, it has more than 40% of the water resources in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) yet imports an estimated 50,000 tons of fish annually. Water accounts for 20% of the total land mass in Zambia, but yet fisheries and aquaculture accounts for less than 1% of the GDP with more than 300,000 fishers, fish farmers and processors. While it is seen that this is a small percentage, fisheries are crucial to Zambia’s rural economy as a source of income and protein. Further Fishakathon (2016) notes that the current national demand for fish is estimated at 120,000 tons per annum but only about 70,000 tons is supplied leaving a deficit of 50,000 tons which is supplied through imports.

In 2015, the Auditor-General’s report said that Zambia’s fish stocks are multispecies stocks and there is an estimated 400 documented species of which 15 species are commercially exploited. According to DoF, most of the other species are of ecological importance to maintain biodiversity and a clean environment.

The complete picture regarding fish farming in Zambia is still very unclear. The most recent estimates by FAO (2016) give 313 ha as the total hectarage of surface water under production including 47 ha or 15% in government stations, 130 ha or 41% in commercial farms and the rest 44% in rural ponds exploited mostly for domestic/substance purposes. This area estimate of 313 ha represents a substantial increase from the 1967 estimate of 100 ha.

There are 19 government stations, with a total of 338 ponds, of 1,400 m2/pond on average. The number of commercial fish-farmers is estimated at 90. Total number of ponds is estimated at 500, with an average of 3,600 m2 / pond (including small reservoirs stocked for fish-farming). There would be around 2000 rural farmers which have included fish-farming in their activities, they would exploit 2,162 ponds with an average of 400 m2/pond.

FAO (2016) estimates that the average yield for the government stations is 2 tonnes/ha which represents a total of 94 T for that sector. Commercial fish-farmers are estimated to have average yields of 3 tonnes/ha which would give a total production of 540 tonnes. Rural ponds have estimated yields of 1 tonnes/ha, for a total production of 86 tonnes. The total production from fish farming in Zambia is estimated at 710 tonnes. This represents a considerable increase from an estimated total production of 88.7 tonnes in 1967.

The scenario regarding capture fisheries is also not very clear. The Luapula Basin consists of the Chambeshi River, the Bangweulu Lakes and surrounding swamps and the Lake Mweru-Luapula fishery. The Zambezi catchment consists of the Luangwa River, Lukanga Swamps, Kafue River, Upper, Middle and Lower Zambezi. The middle Zambezi is now dominated by Lake Kariba. Other fisheries are Lake Tanganyika and the Mweru-wa-Ntipa fishery. These fisheries produce an estimated 70,000 – 80,000 metric tonnes of fish per annum. On employment contribution, about 20,000 people are directly employed in the industry and 250,000 are involved in fish processing, trading and subsistence fishing. The sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated at 3.8% and it is the third largest employer after crop production and mining (MACO, 2008)

The history of fisheries production in Zambia is provided by Table 1 below. The fisheries production in most cases has been stagnant except for Bangweulu and Lusiwasi fisheries which have shown a drastic drop.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table 1: Showing production and effort applied per Fishery (Source: DoF, Zambia, 2015)

Given the foregoing, the objectives of this paper are:

- To identify the climate change scenarios
- To analyze the problems of climate change
- To identify the possible adaptation and mitigation strategies which Zambia may apply. The methodology adopted is reviewing relevant literature and reviewing papers and other works on climate change in Zambia and the adaptation and mitigation strategies.


Impacts of climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa

The term climate change is used to describe a marked change in the long-term average of a region’s weather conditions. Climate is the average weather together with its variability. It is therefore the synthesis of weather in a given place over a period of at least 30 years (Akinsanmi, 2009). Climate parameters include temperature, rainfall, humidity, dew, wind, sunshine, mist, haze and clouds. Thus a drastic and permanent departure of climate patterns from mean values observed, constitute climate change.

Mohammed and Uraguch (2013) wrote that Africa is considered to be a land of plenty with massive inland and marine water resources. The continent has been deemed “ the continent most vulnerable to impacts of projected climate change” by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The continent has one of the most volatile water systems on the planet, and its rivers routinely experience wild swings in flow. For example, variation in the Zambezi River is estimated to be ten times higher than that of most European rivers. This situation has been worsened with climate change. Additionally, climate change is expected to increase the extremes of drought and flooding, with the result that Africa’s already highly variable climate and hydrology will eventually be even more difficult to predict, making fisheries and aquaculture activities very difficult to plan and manage.

Mohammed and Uraguch (2013) , additionally have noted that the major aquatic habitats in Sub- Saharan Africa (SSA) include the Lake Malawi, Lake Victoria, Lake Kariba, river Nile, river Zambezi and many coastal estuarine, deltas, floodplains, mangrove swamps and inland wetlands. The diversity of the habitats and the species they support respond differently to different impacts of climate change. The climate change is very likely to lead to fluctuations in fish stocks and these will lead to major economic consequences for many vulnerable communities and nations that depend on fisheries.

On the impacts on fish stocks , Mohammed and Uraguch report that the impacts of climate change on fish stocks in SSA can be classified as physical and biological changes. Physical changes include surface temperature rise, sea level rise, changes in salinity and ocean acidification. Biological changes include changes in primary production and changes in fish stock distribution. These impacts when combined together will have adverse impacts on the already strained resources.

The IPCC (2007) , which has been very instrumental in advocating for climate change issues by bringing together governments, ENGO, stakeholders and financiers had summarized the projected overall impacts in Africa due to climate change in Panel 1 shown below.

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Panel 1: Summary of potential impacts of climate change in Africa


Climate change impacts can be classified as:

- Catastrophic – these are climate disasters or hazards such as typhoons, hailstorms, droughts and sudden floods.
- Chronic – these are new conditions such as higher temperatures, sea level rise, saline intrusions, subsiding water tables, more or less rainfall, less predictable seasons.

Climate change impacts on the environment and aquatic ecosystems in Zambia

Zambia is endowed with considerable environmental assets, including 50 million hectares of forest and a rich wildlife estate and protected area system covering some 36% of the total land mass. These natural resources are major contributors to the GDP (e.g mining, tourism, agriculture, forestry) and amounts to 27% of national wealth in comparison to 2% in Overseas Economic Cooperation and Development countries in Africa receive and are critical to Zambia’s effort to achieve sustainable development.

This scenario, however, is being affected by climate change. Climate change had already lead to changes in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems in Zambia. The extreme weather patterns have demonstrated the vulnerability of some of Southern Africa’s ecosystems, Zambia inclusive. The migration patterns, geographic range and seasonal activity of many terrestrial and marine species have shifted in response to climate change. The abundance and interaction among species has also changed (IPCC, 2014). Furthermore, there appears to be increased growth of certain species more than others, the increased growth has produced knock-on ecological impacts; for example there seems to be an entire shift of certain biomes with certain grasslands being taken over by woody ecosystems altogether. Despite the fact that the African continent has contributed the least to anthropogenic factors of climate change, Africa is the worst hit and will pay the highest price for climate change.

Climate change impacts on fisheries in Zambia

The productivity of a fishery is tied to the health and functioning of the ecosystems on which it depends for food, habitat and even seed dispersal (MAB, 2009).Generally the only control humans can exert over a fishery’s productivity is adjustment of fishing effort ( Brander, 2007). Estuaries, mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass beds are particularly significant in the provision of ecosystems services, especially as nurseries for baby fish, and are amongst the most sensitive and highly exposed to the negative impacts of coastal development, pollution, sedimentation, destructive fishing practices and climate change. Fish tend to live near their tolerance limits of a range of factors; as a result, increased temperature and acidity, lower dissolved oxygen and changes to salinity can have deleterious effects (Roessig et al.,2004). In particular the changes in climate which will have an impact on the fisheries in Zambia will be characterized by alterations in average temperature and primary production.


Excerpt out of 18 pages


Combating Climate Change. Fisheries and Aquaculture in Zambia
Fisheries and Aquaculture
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ISBN (Book)
aquaculture, change, climate, combating, fisheries, zambia
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Charles Nyanga (Author), 2016, Combating Climate Change. Fisheries and Aquaculture in Zambia, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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