STEVEN MVULA, Kafue
A LEADING fish farming company of Kafue employing 242 workers has lost a total of 26 tonnes of high quality fish stock worth about US$30,000 (about K360,000) because of lack of oxygen in the ponds.
And the Aquaculture Development Association of Zambia says the loss of brooding stock is a major setback to the fish industry in Zambia.
Kafue Fisheries Limited managing director Speedy Holden told a Daily Mail crew that visited his farm that the fish died on Saturday night because of a power outage that lasted 20 hours, affecting the production of oxygen, which is critical to the fishâ€™s survival.
Mr Holden said his company understands the need for load shedding and does not, therefore, blame Zesco Limited for the misfortune that has befallen his business of 32 years.
He said the generators installed at the 130-hectare farm are not able to generate enough electricity to supply the required amount of oxygen to the 133 ponds on the farm.
â€œDue to extended period of load shedding and low water levels in the Kafue River, we were not able to aerate the ponds for oxygen resulting in such a high mortality rate,â€ Mr Holden said.
He said over 10 tonnes of a special genetic brood stock imported from Thailand and the United Kingdom and more than 15 tonnes of production stock died.
â€œWe are very grateful to the district commissioner of Kafue. Government officials and those from Zesco Limited visited us and we held a meeting yesterday to see how best we can balance load shedding in future,â€ he said.
Mr Holden said his farm is also running a joint venture with the Zambia National Service (ZNS), supplying the service with the brood stock.
And the Aquaculture Development Association of Zambia has described the death of the fish as a â€œmajor setbackâ€ to the industry.
The associationâ€™s chairperson Fisho Mwale said after visiting the farm that the loss is â€œimmeasurableâ€.
â€œWe need to intervene as Aquaculture Development Association of Zambia and mobilise assistance from Government through the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries. Zesco must also come in,â€ Mr Mwale said.
Mr Mwale said it takes three years to build a stock of fish of the size of the one that died at Mr Holdenâ€™s farm.
STEVEN MVULA, Kafue