Fishing Regulations

Stock management

Fish in Zimbabwe are managed under legislation governing natural resources (Parks and Wildlife Act (Chapter 20:14) 1996 and the authority to enforce this legislation is vested on the Ministry of Environment ,Tourism and Hospitality Industry through the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA). There is however no fisheries management policy in place.

The government aims to ensure sustainable utilization whilst maintaining biodiversity with a general thrust to increase production from both capture fisheries and aquaculture in order to strengthen the rural economy, create employment and enhance household food security.

The major tasks of the LKFRI are:

  • Fishing control-all fishing is by way of a permit (with specific restrictions on fishing gear and fishing grounds)
  • Authorization or prohibition of destructive fishing methods
  • Control of introduction to waters of fish and aquatic plants and importation of live fish and fish ova
  • Control of business of catching and selling fish
  • Control of fishing nets

Kapenta stock management

The management of the fishery is primarily through enforcement of the regulations stated above. In addition, entry into the fishery is limited through licensing in order to control fishing effort. The acceptable minimum mesh size is 8 mm in order to reduce the likelihood of recruitment and growth overfishing. Fishing is limited to areas more than 20 m deep in order to protect the kapenta juveniles (pre-recruits).

There are also areas closed to fishing to also ensure sustainability of the fishery. Fishing is prohibited within a 2-km radius of all river mouths to protect species spawning up the river.

LKFRI maintains a database of kapenta catches and this data along with research is used to make management interventions. To ensure that the database has relevant data, all kapenta catches caught on each rig are supposed be recorded and sent to LKFRI seven days after the end of each month, where they are entered into the fisheries database. Data collected for each rig include:

  • Company
  • Month
  • Year
  • Number of nights fished
  • Number of hauls
  • Catch in kgs of kapenta
  • Location fished
  • Kgs of tigerfish caught as bycatch

Artisanal stock management

For administration purposes the artisanal fishery is divided into 7 designated fishing grounds (C1 to C7) across the lake. Entry into this fishery is restricted through the fishing permits issued by Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority through Lake Kariba fisheries Research Institute (LKFRI). The Authority to manage fish stocks in this sector has been devolved to local authorities known as Rural District Councils (RDC’s) where fishing is from communal land. These entities receive block permits from the ZPWMA which they in turn distribute to villages along the lake. Fisheries operating from   state land (fishing camps) are administered by LKFRI Gill netting is prohibited in Leisure Bay, rivers, river mouths and 2km radius from any developed mouths so as to allow breeding to occur unhindered and not to interfere with other legitimate lake users. Net mesh restrictions are also in force with a minimum allowable net mesh of 4 inches (multifilament). The total number of nets permitted on the Zimbabwean side of the lake is 2530 nets each being a maximum of 45meters in length.

As an effort to empower rural (marginalized) community’s authority to manage fisheries resources has been bestowed on communities in a programme called Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) as a co-management initiative.

The greatest threat to stock management is however the lack of a harmonized management strategy between the two riparian states (Zimbabwe and Zambia) that share the fisheries resources from Lake Kariba. There is an obvious disparity in the fishing effort with Zambia far exceeding set limits in both the Kapenta and artisanal fisheries thus threatening the fish resources with overfishing. There is a strong need for both countries to provide the other with correct catch and effort data as agreed in protocols signed in the past.

Terms and Conditions;

Rod and line regulations

  • Bag limit of five fish
  • No jigging
  • Not more than three hooks on one line
  • No more than three rods per fisher

Kapenta fishing regulations

 Fishing is prohibited

  • In waters less than 20m in depth
  • Within a 3 km radius of any holiday resort
  • Within a 2 km radius of any river mouth
  • In any river
  • In Leisure Bay of Sanyati basin

Artisanal fishing regulations

  • Twine nets are prohibited
  • Minimum mesh size is 4 inches
  • Fish driving is prohibited
  • No fishing in rivers or river mouths
  • No fishing around built up areas
  • No fishing in leisure bay


Penalties for violating

  • Fines
  • Confiscation of fishing equipment
  • Prosecution
  • Cancellation of permit

Full moon stoppage calendar 2022


JANUARY 15 – 21
FEBRUARY 13 – 19
MARCH 15 – 21
APRIL 13 – 19
MAY 13 – 19
JUNE 11 – 17
JULY 10 – 16
AUGUST 9 – 15
OCTOBER 6 – 12