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Government Distress over High Fish Import Tariffs

ZAMBIA - The government has expressed distress over the high import tariffs within Eastern and Southern African countries and Indian Ocean region (ESA-IO) as it limits intra-regional trade in fish.

Agriculture and Livestock permanent secretary David Shamulenge said average import tariffs between regional countries are higher than developed countries, reports DailyMail.

Dr Shamulenge cited the reduction of competitive access to international markets as some of the pressing issues facing regional fisheries trade.

Average import tariffs between regional countries themselves are generally much higher than in developed countries and have limited intra-regional trade, he said.

He said this in a speech read for him by director of co-operatives Akakandelwa Sitwala at the official launch of a two-day workshop on regional fish trade held in Lusaka recently.

He said weak fisheries policies and inadequacies in the regulatory framework of the sector have also reduced the use of natural resources, thereby resulting in declining catches.

Other bottlenecks include logistical and infrastructure challenges throughout the value chain, competitive distribution systems and changing quality requirement.

He said there is need to improve capacity in the aquaculture industry to ensure sustainable development.

Increased benefits from the sector can indeed be expected if based on proper resources management, he said.

Dr Shamulenge said promoting regional trade in fish will assist in integrating the industry into national and regional food security action plans.

Earlier, head of regional cooperation section of the European Union (EU) delegation to Zambia and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Daniel Dominguez said fisheries, especially fish farming, can contribute significantly to economic growth and food security.

Mr Dominguez said this can only be achieved through appropriate fisheries management to ensure the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fishery stocks.

He said the EU has contributed 21 million to support the implementation of a regional Fisheries Strategy for the ESA-IO through the smart fish principle.

The objective of SmartFish is to deepen regional economic integration of the fisheries sector in the region and targets 18 countries from ESA-IO member states.

Lucy Towers

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