• Life has been difficult over the past two months
• “The weather is unforgiving. The last time I went to Darwendale I almost drowned. I only caught five fish. My daily catch usually fills up a 20 litre container. We are in trouble. The weather is angry.”
Fishermen who notoriously poach fish in Darwendale Dam and Lake Chivero just outside Harare have turned to domestic piece jobs as persistent rains are halting their operations.
Since December, most desperate fishermen have been moving around low density residential areas like Knowe, Nharira, Maridale, Damafalls among others in Norton seeking manual jobs like weeding fields and gardening.
Always fighting running battles with National Parks and Wildlife Authority rangers, being arrested and returning the next day, it seems for now only nature has managed to hit back at the fishermen for what they have stolen from it.
The high unstable water levels coupled by high winds are making it difficult for fish poachers to fish resulting in them staying away from the water bodies.
Without regretting the negative impact their illegal operations have on the environment and aquatic life, some of the fishermen who spoke to The Herald said life has been difficult over the past two months.
A fish poacher who identified himself as Malvern Maisei (40), a father of four, said he has been poaching fish since 2019 and made enough money to survive.
“I would make between US$25-30 per day from fish sales depending on the size of the fish. Each week, I went to Darwendale four times meaning I pocketed US$120 per week,” he said.
Maisei said it is too risky to fish when the weather is bad.
“The weather is not forgiving. The last time I went to Darwendale I almost drowned. I only caught five fish. My daily catch usually fills up a 20 litre container. We are in trouble. The weather is angry,” he said.
To eke a living, he is now helping residents to weed crops at a fee of US$5.
“The money is not enough. This is not the life I am used to. I love fast money,” he said.
Another fish poacher who identified himself as Nomore Gutu (35) said he is afraid of drowning and will only go back to his illegal trade when the weather has calmed.
For now, he says he is surviving from piece jobs around Norton.
“I just do any job that comes my way now. What has made our situation worse is the lockdown. During the first lockdown, the weather was good and I would sell a bucket of fish almost everyday. I delivered the fish to people’s homes. This lockdown, coupled by the bad weather is a huge lesson for me. I will invest my money wisely when I return to fishing,” said Gutu.
The illegal fish poachers have contributed immensely to the decline of fish population. Poachers also do not adhere to laid fishing times which include not fishing on Sundays and the laying of nets and fishing only at prescribed times.