With over 254 videos having been published by Peace Parks TV this year alone, it might seem like a bit of a tough call to ask Peace Parks Foundation’s CEO, Werner Myburgh, to select his top five. After spending a lot of time going through the archives, Werner sat down with us to reveal his final selection. 

Coming in as his 5th favourite Peace Parks TV production for the year, was ‘Fishing For Nets’. This film highlights how communities are taking ownership of their natural resources in Zambia’s Simalaha Community Conservancy. It is through strict conservation measures enforced by the community that the fish stocks within a 60-kilometre stretch of the Zambezi River have now significantly grown. Through the trading in of monofilament nets and declaring fish sanctuaries, fishermen are now reporting catching up to 35 kilograms of fish, compared to the 5 kilograms of fish typically caught just two years ago.

More About The Film

For centuries gone by, local people have fished the mighty Zambezi River, which offers a valuable source of food and income for many communities living here. The river is home to more than 200 species of fish, with the more well-known being tigerfish, killifish and the Vundu catfish. Unfortunately, with the fast expansion of human settlements in the region, increased pollution and unsustainable fishing methods, the Zambezi’s health and fish stocks have taken a toll.

It’s common for fishers throughout Africa to use low-cost and lightweight monofilament nets, such as mosquito nets, to catch their fish. However, these pose a major and unnecessary risk to the Zambezi River ecosystem. The nets are extremely tightly woven and transparent in colour, which often results in catching birds, reptiles, and small aquatic animals. These nets are also capable of catching things as small as fish eggs, which, combined with over-fishing, is contributing to the rapid decrease of fish stocks.

Protecting Fish Stocks

In the Simalaha Community ConservancyPeace Parks Foundation has recognised the urgent need to help reverse the decline in fish populations. Working alongside fishing communities to come up with reasonable solutions that will benefit the local people living off the land, a decision was made to ban these monofilament nets from the conservancy.  Fish sanctuaries – shallow bodies of water where nets and fishing are banned – have also been developed along the Zambezi River, which allows the local flora and fauna to be naturally replenished. The community themselves has chosen the sanctuary sites.

Meet The Tapi Team

Frequent patrols undertaken by Simalaha’s Tapi Team ensure that any illegal fishing nets they find are confiscated and then destroyed. The fishers are then given eco-friendly, legal nets to use instead. To further manage and regulate fishing practices in the area, each local chiefdom of the Simalaha Community Conservancy elects their own Village Fisheries Management Committee. The latter work with Peace Parks Foundation to encourage local fishers to hand in their illegal fishing nets and use sustainable and eco-friendly fishing practices.

By doing this, Simalaha’s community remains empowered to look after their natural resources and wildlife, as well as ensure that future fish stocks remain protected, which will contribute to a brighter future here.