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Story Publication logo June 10, 2024

Fishing on the Frontier: Fishermen Can No Longer Make a Living From Fishing on Lake Edward in the DRC


This project looks into the complex and interlinked drivers of fish decline in the Nile basin.

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Multiple Authors

Image courtesy of InfoNile.

On the Congolese side of Lake Edward, a lake shared with Uganda, fish production has plummeted from overexploitation and illegal taxes by militias.

Fish are becoming increasingly rare on the west coast of Lake Edward, a transboundary lake on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. This situation is due to a more than 300 percent increase in fishing boats, the growing influence of armed groups, the corruption of officials responsible for fishing regulations, and climate change. Several fishermen have left the profession, others are arrested in Uganda for violating lake limits, malnutrition is gaining ground among women and children, and floods are increasingly recurring. How can this lake be saved? Better governance of Lake Edward, restoration of state authority, introduction of sustainable fishing techniques, reduction of corruption and much more are necessary to restore this lake and its biodiversity. 

At 5 a.m., the day had already dawned for Alphonsine Masika. With several other women, she headed to Kaingini, the fish market in the Kyavinyonge fishery, to purchase fish for sale from fishermen who had spent the night on the lake. But on this particular morning in October 2023, there was no fish for the local market.

“It’s become a habit now. The owners of the canoes sell all the production in advance to merchants in large towns like Butembo. Imagine, for these five or six canoes, which have just docked here at the landing stage, there is nothing for us here locally,” Alphonsine said, visibly disappointed.

“We have to come back tomorrow morning,” said another fish seller, Neema Kavira, who regretted having abandoned everything in the hope of building her fish business in order to feed her family.

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An aerial view of the surroundings of Lake Edward in the Kyavinyonge fishery. Image courtesy of InfoNile.

Eric Mumbere, a fisherman, had been on the lake for more than 10 days. He explained that he and his colleagues were forced to remain on the waters longer than expected, abandoning their families at home in the hope of obtaining many fish.

“You see me getting out of the canoe, but I don’t have any fish to take home to eat with my family. The bulk of the fish that we catch belongs to the owner of the canoe who uses his means to operate the canoe and cover the expenses. We only benefit from a tenth of production, which we share between five to 10 fishermen,” he said.

This observation is surprising for Joël Kyavu, a student in Butembo. He and his classmates visited the Kyavinyonge fishery.

“I thought when I came back from here I would bring loads of fish with me, but that’s not the case. The price of fish is higher here than back home in Butembo, even though we are supposed to be in a fishery. They explained to us that there is a deficiency, that the lake no longer produces enough fish,” he said.

On the local market in the Kyavinyonge fishery, a kilogram of fish sells for 15,000 Congolese Francs, around USD $6. This is not affordable for many families, who are already impoverished by the horrors of terrorism that have shaken the region since 2013 and who live on less than USD $2 a day.

Fish on sale near the dock at Kyavinyonge. Image courtesy of InfoNile.

The fish are disappearing. From year to year, Vitshumbi, a fishery on Lake Edward, sees the hope of good fishing disappear. 

“We went in a short time from 15,000 tonnes to less than 400 tonnes of fish per year,” Delphin Mutahinga, the local representative of the North Kivu provincial governor, told the French newspaper Le Monde.

In Vitshumbi, several canoes are no longer motorized, following the drop in production. Instead, fishermen have already opted for the lake camp system. A canoe without a motor, locally known as “mumbekaye,” can spend more than a month on the waters of the lake, and its small catches are evacuated by another canoe, which subsequently supplies fishermen with cassava flour and other basic necessities.

Lake Edward is home to many species of fish, including bagrus docmac (a catfish known locally as “kibonde”), sarotherodon niloticus (a type of tilapia known as “likoke”), sarotherodon leucosticus (“chombo”), haplochromis ssp (a cichlid known as “maradona”), hemihaplochromis multicolur, and schutzia eduardiana

More than 8,000 fishermen, members of women’s cooperatives and local transporters survive through the fish value chain on this lake, according to Virunga National Park.

Video courtesy of InfoNile. 2024.

Illegal fishing and corruption of officials

Fish production and productivity on Lake Edward are declining, according to a study published in 2018 in the journal Tropicultura.  Meanwhile, the number of fishing units was 275 percent over the recommended quota, this scientific study recognized for the first time.

Source: PEL/Kyavinyonge. Image courtesy of InfoNile.

Muhindo Vyalengekanya Joël is responsible for the SAPEIKYA organization, one of the Kyavinyonge fishermen’s groups. He explained that there are multiple causes for the drop in production.

“The number of canoes on the lake has tripled. A number of 1,187 fishing units are legally authorized, but currently there are more than 4,000 canoes on Lake Edward,” Muhindo said.

Fishermen prepare their fishing nets on the shores of Lake Edward. Image courtesy of InfoNile.

Muhindo also pointed an accusing finger at bad fishing practices.

“Among fishermen, there are those who fish with small mesh nets. It is recommended to use 4.5-inch mesh nets, but some fishermen use lower mesh nets. Others use what is called Kikuvo, a practice of forcefully striking the water in any direction to push the fish towards the installed traps, not forgetting fishing in the breeding zones used for the reproduction of fish,” he indicated.

Mosquito nets are often distributed free of charge to residents as part of anti-malaria campaigns led by the Congolese government and its partners, including WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank and Santé Rurale Sanru. These mosquito nets are used illegally to catch fish, often capturing fingerlings along with bigger fish. The nets are also sold in the market for around USD $1 each, which makes them widely accessible. 

Kambale Steven, head of the Environmental Service — the public service responsible for the environment in Kyavinyonge, welcomed us from his office. He was coming from a patrol on the lake, during which he managed to seize electric nets. He showed us a few fingerlings that had already fallen into these nets.

“We went to the lake to enforce fishing standards. This is how we saw fishermen placing these nets. As we approached, they fled. We have collected these nets, which we will incinerate to discourage these practices,” Kambale said.

Awaiting incineration, electric nets and mosquito nets used by illegal fishermen are seized in the Kyavinyonge fishery by the public environment service. Image courtesy of InfoNile.

Small fish seized from fishermen with prohibited fishing nets in Kyavinyonge. Image courtesy of InfoNile.

Adding to illegal fishing practices lies the corruption of the few officials who turn a blind eye and encourage these practices.

According to Muhindo Joël of the fishermen’s group SAPEIKYA, fishermen are mainly responsible for the destruction of the lake’s ecosystems, but state services permit them to do so.

“There are people in each operational public service on the lake that I do not want to mention by name here, but who are the state services including the naval forces, the fisheries service, the environment and military intelligence. These people take money from illegal fishermen, and in return, they turn a blind eye to their crimes,” he revealed.

According to a fisherman from Kyavinyonge, who preferred to remain anonymous for his safety, fees charged to cover this corruption range from 50,000 to 200,000 Congolese francs (around USD $20-80). This amount varies depending on the number of public services to be bribed.

“Every time I am involved in fishing, I pay an amount to an intermediary of a naval force official to get the green light. Other services may arrest me, but I know that I will be released and my equipment will be returned to me urgently,” he testified.

Corruption of officials is confirmed by Josué Mukura, an environmental activist and executive secretary of the federation of individual fishermen’s committees of Lake Edward (FECOPILE). This federation has been working to protect Lake Edward and its fishery resources for more than a decade. 

According to Mukura, state services support illegal fishing.

“The soldiers working on Lake Edward established what we call “kisoko.” This practice consists of transporting illegal fishermen to the lake under the pretext that they have arrested them, and yet it is to cover their activity for something [money],” alleged this activist.

At the end of the first half of 2023, Colonel Bahati (the only name provided), who is in charge of the naval forces—a unit of the DRC armed forces responsible for securing waters and lakes—was suspended from his duties. He was based in the Kyavinyonge fishery. According to information from a local leader, he was accused of supporting illegal fishing on the lake, pillaging fishermen’s fish and fuel, ransoming and other crimes.

The influence of armed groups

Lake Edward is an integral part of Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site within the Albertine Rift valley that contains an immense amount of biodiversity, including endangered mountain gorillas. 

However, as eastern DRC has become embroiled in a series of internal conflicts, the shores of Lake Edward are attracting various armed groups. They extort money from local fishermen or fish there themselves, encouraging illegal fishing using techniques that cause serious damage to the environment. At the same time, they slaughter hippos and other large mammals in order to consume and sell their meat.

“The number of members of armed groups around the Park is estimated at 3,000 individuals, including 1,500 within its borders. These groups engage in a number of criminal activities, including charcoal trafficking, illegal fishing, illegal farming, poaching for ivory and wildlife meat, kidnapping and extortion (tolls and taxes),” reads the website of the Virunga Alliance, which coordinates activities in the park in partnership with the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN), an institution under the supervision of the Congolese Ministry of the Environment, whose mission is to manage parks and protected areas.

Source: Jonas Kiriko. Image by Annika McGinnis/InfoNile.

Lake Edward officially has three legal fisheries: Kyavinyonge, Vitshumbi and Nyakakoma. However, with the population explosion in the entities that source fish from this lake, the number of fisheries has increased to more than 10. People have moved to the region either for fishing, small business or in search of arable land, because the highlands are no longer capable of sustaining the demand for agriculture.

Almost all of these illegal and illegal fisheries are managed or co-managed between the armed forces of the DRC and various militias. In the case of the illegal Lunyasenge fishery, an armed Mayi-Mayi group charges a weekly illegal tax of 10,000 Congolese francs (about US $4) for each canoe, local fishermen told us. Anyone who objects to this payment sees their fishing equipment seized. 

In addition to the initial tax collected by rebel groups to allow fishermen to fish, many state and customary authorities also require a tax per fish. These authorities include the provincial inspection of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, the intelligence service (ANR and TD) and the migration authorities (DGM).

An aerial view of the surroundings of Lake Edward in the Kyavinyonge fishery. Image courtesy of InfoNile.

Currently, frictions are emerging as the management of Virunga National Park is attempting to regain control of Lake Edward from the militia groups through infrastructural and military interventions.

These interventions are facing resistance, not only from several rebel groups who hold various fishing villages along the shores of Lake Edward, but also from other state authorities present in the region, the so-called “fishing rebels,” according to a study entitled Lakes as rebellious landscapes: from “rebel fishermen” to “shady state officials” in DR Congo.

This study was led by Esther Marijnen, a researcher in the sociology of development and change from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. The study added that fishing in times of armed conflict is illegal resource extraction made possible by the breakdown of law and order in times of war.

Image courtesy of InfoNile.

Kivu Security Tracker, a project of the New York University Congo Study Group and Human Rights Watch, lists more than half a dozen armed groups that engage in illegal cross-border trade between the DRC and Uganda via Lake Edward in particular.

These actors seize the opportunity to enrich themselves economically, which increases competition and sometimes leads to “fish wars.” The presence of Mayi-Mayi rebel factions around the lake also contributes to characterizing Lake Edward as a rebel landscape.

“Through practices of imposition and extortion, rebel groups are entangled in the broader conflict between the park and the population. However, many other public authorities contribute to the militarization of the lake and participate in subversive policies,” Esther Marijnen further explains in this study.

The average route from the lake to the market contains between 12 and 25 tax collection points. The majority of these taxes are illegal, except those paid to the beneficiary who is responsible for developing the road. At each collection point, payment varies between 1,000 and 5,000 Congolese francs, equivalent to USD $0.38 and $1.85. Money collected by illegal services escapes the public treasury because only the service that collects it decides what to do with it.

Drivers transporting fish face many roadblocks, including those manned by park rangers who may also charge taxes, particularly when the patrol post is manned by a mixed ICCN and FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Cong) unit.

Climate change worsening fish deficiency

Lake Edward is located in East Africa between the latitudes of 0°04' and 0°39' S and longitudes of 29°30' and 30°05' E, in the western part of the Rift Valley in the Nile basin. The lake borders Uganda (29 percent of its surface) and the DRC (71 percent of its surface). It is connected to Lake George by the Kazinga Canal, which explains why several species of fish are common to both lakes.

Salted fish exposed to the sun in the market dryer in Kyavinyonge. Image courtesy of InfoNile.

Among the causes of the fish deficiency in Lake Edward is climate change, although its impact has not yet been established by in-depth scientific research. 

Lake Edward lies in the Albertine Rift and the Nile River basin. It is the watershed of several rivers originating from the highlands. It is also overlooked by many hills, which have recently experienced erosion and landslides.

“These mudslides coming from the highlands flow into the lake,” said Professor Sahani Walere of the Catholic University of Graben. “Around 20 tonnes of silt are dumped into Lake Edward each year, according to our research. Unfortunately, these silts, which flow into the bay, while the latter is the motherland of fish, thus leading the fish to no longer reproduce there.”

He cited the South Talihya River as an illustration. 

“All the silt it drags ends up in the bay of the Kamandi fishery, thereby decreasing the depth of the lake and pushing the fish further into the lake waters,” he said.

This, in his opinion, causes the Congolese fishermen to find themselves in Ugandan waters, where there are more fish. Trespassing into Uganda, they are exposed to regular arrests and seizures of their fishing equipment by the Ugandan navy. The resources of Lake Edward are shared between Uganda and the DRC. And often, questions of lake boundaries arise when fishermen from one country find themselves in a part considered to belong to another country. 

According to data downloaded from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, which tracks data on conflicts around the world, fish-related conflicts have generally increased in DRC from 2010 to 2023, with a high in 2021. At least 20 cases were tracked around Lake Edward in this period, most relating to illegal cross-border fishing or conflicts among armed groups, the Congolese army and civilians.

Image courtesy of InfoNile.

A bilateral agreement was established on October 20, 2018, between Uganda and the DRC on the sustainable management of fisheries and aquaculture resources in the Lake Edward and Albert basin. However, the agreement remains silent regarding the demarcation of the lake limits. 

Article 7 in the agreement also provides for the creation of an organization of fisheries and aquaculture of Lakes Edward and Albert. This organization, according to article 8 of the agreement in its paragraph 6, subparagraph H, aims to facilitate collaboration for the purposes of conflict prevention and their resolution.

In article 17 paragraph 1, this bilateral agreement also notes that the parties must cooperate to prevent conflicts and disputes, in particular by strengthening trust and dialogue between communities in the sustainable management of fisheries and aquaculture. Paragraph 2 further mandates that the parties endeavor to amicably resolve any conflict or dispute, including when it is a dispute of a technical nature, by carrying out an expert analysis and agreeing on a strategy for peaceful resolution.

However, six years later, we have not been able to verify the establishment of the organization mentioned in Article 7.

Fish market shed built on the Kyavinyonge fishery landing stage. Image courtesy of InfoNile.

Furthermore, Professor Walere highlighted the problem of deforestation facing the west coast of Lake Edward. In search of wood for embers, building homes or cultivating fields, some people cut trees around the lake. This makes the land around the lake vulnerable to erosion, which causes landslides.

Walere called on the state to provide resources to facilitate in-depth studies on climate change and its impact on the productivity of Lake Edward. In April and August 2023, enormous damage was recorded during rains accompanied by strong winds in Vitshumbi, a fishery located on the west coast of Lake Edward in Virunga National Park in Rutshuru territory. 

Roofs of several houses were blown away by these winds. School walls and churches were also demolished, while many other homes were flooded by the rising waters of the lake mixed with that of the rains that fell on the region after long months of drought. 

Image courtesy of InfoNile.

Lake Edward is surrounded by two national parks, Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) in Uganda and Virunga National Park (PNVI) in the DRC. Mgahinga Forest (Gorilla Reserve) and Chamburi Game Park are also close to this lake. These protected areas extend over nearly 380 kilometers from north to south. 

The waters of Lake Edward and the Kazinga Canal are entirely included within the limits of this protected region. Lake George is three-quarters bordered by the QENP or the PNVI, and only 15-20 kilometers of Lake George and Kazinga Canal are not included in any of these parks. The Congolese waters of Lake Edward are an integral part of the Virunga National Park, and the Kazinga Canal is an integral part of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Retraining of fishermen, the park invaded and malnutrition sets in

The Kyavinyonge enclave within Virunga National Park is home to nearly 30,000 inhabitants, most of whom have settled here to practice fishing. Today, they are no longer able to make a living exclusively from this activity.

Aerial view of the surroundings of Lake Edward in the Kyavinyonge fishery. Image courtesy of InfoNile.

Néhémie Kavusa, a 60-year-old, stopped fishing to switch to the motorcycle taxi business. For more than five years now, he has been shuttling clients between the Kyavinyonge fishery and the nearest large town of Butembo.

“I no longer knew how to provide for my family with fishing. Around the 70s and 80s, a fisherman was really a respectable person. But today, with only fishing as an activity, we cannot do anything substantial. I opted for the motorcycle taxi, with which I earn between 35,000 to 70,000 Congolese francs per day, approximately $14 to $27 American dollars,” he said.

Aristote Mumbere, in his late thirties, said he now combines fishing with running a hairdressing salon.

“At the current rate, it is impossible for me to provide for my family by fishing exclusively. Now I only go to the lake out of necessity. I spend my time in my hair salon, where I also hire three other young people who are disappointed with the current production of the lake,” he explained.

Another resident, Henriette Mbambu, is a farmer who has started cultivating inside Virunga National Park. Her husband is a fisherman in Kyavinyonge who is no longer able to cover family expenses through fishing.

In October, she and other farmers stormed the office of the local civil society, asking it to serve as an intermediary with the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation, which manages the Virunga park.

In fact, the latter sent eco-guards, who allowed elephants to destroy the crops of these farmers who admit to having violated the boundaries of the park.

“Fish production can no longer feed our families. We are surrounded by the arable land that is in the park, and we cannot starve while the ICCN protects this bush for the animals. In recent days, as the harvest approaches, park rangers are arresting or turning back farmers who want to protect their crops against the ravages of elephants. This is why we are at the civil society office to ask them to plead our case with the park officials,” Mbambu explained.

Fish on sale near the dock at Kyavinyonge. Image courtesy of InfoNile.

The harmful effects of fish deficiency extend to many other sectors. Masika Akida, who runs a bar-restaurant in the Copevi district in the middle of the Kyavinyonge fishery, explained that the number of customers is decreasing overnight. 

“I can’t find myself anymore,” Akida said, adding that the fishermen who make up the bulk of the clientele complain about the unproductiveness of the lake. “They don’t come like they used to.”

According to Kakule Kahandukya, a nurse at the Kyavinyonge reference health center, the negative repercussions of fish production in Lake Edward on the nutritional health of mothers and children are palpable. Of the 783 births recorded from January to September 2023, 11 percent of children were born underweight. This falls below an acceptable threshold of less than 4 percent, this health official warned.

“Currently, pregnant women are giving birth to children with low weight. Among these births, there were 83 children with low birth weight, that is to say a weight less than two kilograms. This is at the maternity level. At the CPS preschool consultation level, children with a MUAC of less than 110 [upper arm circumference less than 110 mm] have become numerous,” Kakule explained.

The repercussions of fish deficiency are not only felt in humans. Certain species of birds that once graced the shores of Lake Edward are no longer visible. This is the case of the pelicans known locally as “kinyakoni,” which fled the Kyavinyonge fishery. These birds are increasingly visible in public slaughterhouses in large cities such as Butembo and Beni, where they feed on leftovers from the slaughter of animals.

Oil exploitation, another threat to fear in the future

In July 2022, the Minister of Hydrocarbons, Didier Budimbu, announced calls for tenders for 30 blocks including 27 oil and three gas for hydrocarbon rights. Block V, which is located in the territories of Lubero and Rutshuru in the province of North Kivu, includes a large part of the Virunga park and particularly Lake Edward.

Image by Annika McGinnis/InfoNile.

This crude oil could be transported via the EACOP project, Total Energies’ oil pipeline that will stretch through Uganda to the Tanzanian coast. Last November, Josué Mukura, a Congolese fisherman and environmental activist, was in France to denounce the French multinational company at its headquarters in Paris.

“150,000 people depend directly on fishing in this lake; 500,000 indirectly,” argues this activist. As for the surrounding forests of Virunga, they form one of the national parks "which shelter several species in the world and a great biodiversity,” warned this "heritage hero" at the World Conservation Congress of 2016

In the event of oil exploitation in Lake Edward, water pollution is inevitable. This will lead to reduced fish productivity causing food insecurity. In addition, the consumption of this polluted water puts the health of local residents at risk.

Video courtesy of InfoNile. 2024.

The Congolese Minister of Hydrocarbons is currently negotiating with the Ugandan government on oil development. Last May, he announced on X (formerly Twitter) that he had created a bilateral working group to obtain access to the EACOP pipeline for the transport of crude oil, which will be extracted from the Albertine Graben in the DRC, namely the region extending from the Virunga Park to the north of the country.

“Today in Kampala, at the invitation of my counterpart the Honorable Dr. Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu. Our discussions focused on our bilateral relations, the development of hydrocarbons, and access to the EACOP pipeline for the transport of crude oil, which will be extracted from the Albertine Graben in the DRC. Uganda having recognized the crucial importance of our integration, a working group composed of our respective technical experts has been established,” he announced (translated from French).

The DRC is also negotiating with China, in particular for the exploitation of oil blocks 1 and 3 in the Congolese area of Lake Albert, bordering Uganda, revealed Africa Intelligence. The blocks located in the Ugandan area of the lake already belong to Total Energies to supply EACOP.

Means of mitigation

Created on February 3, 1949, the Virunga Fisheries Cooperative brings together eleven local authorities in the territories of Beni, Lubero, Rutshuru and Nyiragongo in North Kivu province, DRC.

This cooperative holds the right to fish on Lake Edward — a right acquired in compensation for the ceded rights formerly exercised by indigenous constituencies on land that now constitutes Virunga National Park.

To try to reduce the pressures on the lake, this group initiated an aquaculture project in 2022. 

“COPEVI has already launched into modern aquaculture. This project is being carried out with the construction of fish ponds and two hatcheries in the Vitshumbi and Kyavinyonge fisheries. The species bred is clarias gariepinus. This project is part of the framework of food sovereignty and remains one of the alternatives to anthropogenic pressure on the fishing resources of Lake Edward,” said Pascal Mbusa, the manager of this cooperative.

Aerial view of fish breeding tanks of the Virunga COPEVI fisheries cooperative operational in Kyavinyonge. Images courtesy of InfoNile.

The project aims to raise clarias, tilapia and barbus in order to feed the populations living in the fisheries of Lake Edward as well as those living in local communities.

Due to the decline in fish production in the DRC, traders of this commodity are increasingly turning to importing fish from foreign countries. Along with fish from Asia, particularly China, the DRC imports fish from other countries in the Nile basin. These include Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. Tilapia is at the top of the imported fish series. 

At the Butembo shopping center, there are a large number of buildings dedicated to the sale of fish. There are also heads, skeletons, mouths and tails of imported fish. These remains are weighed on a scale or on small piles to facilitate their rapid disposal. They are consumed mainly by modest families, testified Ernestine Kaswera, who runs a fish depot on Rwenzori Avenue in Butembo town.

Heads and remains of fish imported from Uganda and Tanzania on sale at the market in Butembo. Images courtesy of InfoNile.

Driven by the desire to compensate for the deficiency of fish in urban centers, Dr. Toussaint Murusi, a researcher at the Catholic University of Graben, initiated a fish farming activity. On his plot, he maintains around 10 fish tanks in which he raises fish of the clarias species.

“I wanted to prove to people that it’s not only in the lake that you can find fish. If we practice urban fish farming, there is a reason to take up the challenge of fish deficiency,” he said.

Video courtesy of InfoNile. 2024.

Mumbere Siriwayo Assumani, the president of the Kyavinyonge fishermen's committee, said it is up to the Congolese state through its environment and forestry services to regulate fishing on the lake. However, these services pretend to regulate and lack firmness, he said. Assumani also proposed the registration and labeling of canoes active on the lake to help control the exact number of fishing units and fishermen.

The Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation started such a registration initiative in 2020 through the Virunga fishermen's cooperative. However, it has experienced opposition from several fishermen who profit from illegal fishing and certain politicians who are taking advantage of the situation to boost their political standing.

There is a 1932 fishing law in the DRC that dates from the colonial era. It was followed by a decree of April 21, 1937. In its article 64, it stipulates that “in each region, it is prohibited to hold, expose for sale, sell or buy, transfer or receive in any capacity whatsoever, transport or hawk fish for which fishing is prohibited, except if they come from private water bodies.”

These are the laws still in force regarding fishing in the DRC. For Professor Mutambwe Shango, a teacher at the University of Kinshasa and expert in aquatic ecology, the big problem lies in the age of these laws that govern fishing. They do not take into account current realities. For him, everything considered as an illegal practice concerning fishing must be listed in a law. 

That is not the case today. According to our conversations with several fishermen, the majority of arrests linked to the destruction of Lake Edward do not end up in court. Those involved pay fines to the police, army and other services, who then release them — which only perpetuates these harmful practices.

For the management of the park and its international donors, the lake is an “infrastructural border.” Four types of interventions are underway, namely: limit and control establishments and populations around the lake; develop tourist infrastructure; establish sustainable fishing; and intervene in the chain and trade of fishing products. 

For the various armed groups, Lake Edward appears to be a lawless zone. Hence, state authority must be restored so that the influence of the militias does not weigh on the lake's resources in the long term, recommended Muhindo Siku, an environmental journalist based in the Kyavinyonge fishery.

The following have contributed to this report:

Christopher Kobel / InfoNile: support in video editing
Jonathan Kabugo / InfoNile: illustration


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