ZELA Statement on World Aquatic Animals Day


5 April 2024

Wildlife Ambassador Urges Protection of Aquatic Animals in Parks and Wildlife Act and Wildlife Policy

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) joined the global community in celebrating World Aquatic Animal Day, this week. This year’s theme, Intersectional Considerations of Aquatic Animals, highlighted the crucial roles played by aquatic animals in their ecosystems.

World Aquatic Animal Day is celebrated on 3 April annually to educate people about the threats facing aquatic animals such as pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction, and climate change. By raising awareness, this day hopes to inspire individuals and communities to act towards preserving these vital creatures.

The celebrations took place at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Gardens in Harare, with Her Excellency the First Lady and Wildlife Ambassador, Dr. Auxillia Mnangagwa, delivering the keynote address. In her speech, she emphasized several key points:

  • The importance of incorporating protection and promotion of aquatic animals into ongoing reviews of the Parks and Wildlife Act and Wildlife policy.
  • The necessity of developing a hippopotamus management plan to conserve this species and mitigate human-wildlife conflict.
  • Raising awareness about the significance of aquatic species in the wildlife economy and their contribution to areas such as food security.
  • The integral role of aquatic animals in maintaining balanced ecosystems.
  • The importance of robust law enforcement to protect aquatic animals.
  • The need for collaboration among all stakeholders in conserving and managing ecosystems while balancing conservation with community livelihoods.

The address by the Wildlife Ambassador underscores the critical work undertaken by ZELA over the past two decades. ZELA has advocated for environmental rights to ensure that water bodies, where aquatic animals live and thrive, remain free from pollution.[1]

ZELA has also contributed significantly to legislative improvements, including the inclusion of fish and other invertebrates in the definition section of the Parks and Wildlife Act[2]. This amendment addresses previous challenges in addressing fish-related offenses.[3]

Furthermore, ZELA’s contributions to the Zimbabwe Biodiversity Economy Report highlight the importance of tapping into the fisheries sector to sustain community livelihoods. The report identifies barriers and opportunities in the aquatic subsector and advocates for integrated fishery policies and legislation to promote coordinated growth and the integration of aquaculture and subsistence farming.

Noting the positive relationship between key points highlighted by Dr. Mnangagwa in her keynote address and ZELA’s current programming, ZELA reaffirms its commitment to protecting aquatic animals using the law.

In light of these developments, ZELA recommends the following actions to protect aquatic animals in Zimbabwe:

  • Strengthening and enforcing existing laws and regulations related to aquatic animal protection.
  • Supporting and funding conservation initiatives focused on preserving aquatic habitats and endangered species.
  • Implementing sustainable fisheries management practices to prevent overfishing.
  • Restoring and protecting critical aquatic habitats through habitat restoration projects.
  • Engaging local communities in conservation efforts and providing alternative livelihoods.
  • Raising awareness about the value of aquatic biodiversity.
  • Collaborating with international organizations and neighboring countries on conservation efforts.

[1] In 2012 ZELA supported villagers in suing Anjin Investments, Marange Resources and Diamond Mining Company for polluting the Odzi, Singwizi and Save Rivers. ZELA & Ors v Anjin Inv. (Pvt) Ltd & Ors (HC 9451 of 2012) [2015] ZWHHC 523 (16 June 2015).

[2] https://zela.org/download/commentary-and-analysis-of-the-parks-and-wildlife-amendment-bill/

[3]A case involving R10 million worth of smuggled abalone at Beitbridge Border Post could not be dealt with under the Parks and Wildlife Act. https://www.chronicle.co.zw/r84m-abalone-deal-duos-trial-set-for-july/.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.