An economic disaster is looming in the Ngamiland district following the recent decline in water levels at Lake Ngami. Fishermen, whose livelihood depends on the lake, find themselves in a precarious situation despiting the reopening of the fishing season on March 01, 2018 after a three months break for breeding season. To date the lake has not re-opened for fishing season due to low water levels. Lake Ngami Conservation Trust chairperson, Helmi Bokhutlo confirmed that they have resolved not to open for fishing activities because of the low water levels in the current fishing season. He said even if they opened the lake, fishermen would be paying P1000.00 rental fees for sanitation services without making any profit and some will not even raise the rental fees. The closure also affects the Trust negatively. Last year the lake closed for fishing activities as early as September because of the low water levels. “It is the same story this year. We hope things will change in the next few when then lake flows. We will only reopen if that happens. Obviously affects us financially as we have been depending on the rental fees for our operations,” she said.
The Trust is currently exploring other income generating projects such as tourism. A biologist at the University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute, Professor Keta Mosepele, said it is common knowledge that Lake Ngami could one day dry up like it did in the 1984. He said they have long advised Government to allow fishermen to fish as much as they can when there is fish in the lake. Mosepele has been critical of Government for the fishing ban in 2015/16, which denied fishermen a lot of opportunities. Mosepele commissioned a fishing study at Lake Ngami in 2017 where advised Government not to ban the dried fish export because dried fish has been the key products for fishermen as it has attracted marker from Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. “For as long as dried fish was not lifted fishing will not benefit the communities, Zambia and DRC market was a good development," he said, adding that there was no need to open fishing ban if you have ban dried fish export.