George Maponga at Tugwi-Mukosi Dam
Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body, Tugwi-Mukosi, is fast becoming a major source of income and a nutrition booster for communities in rural Masvingo with nearly 200 tonnes of fresh fish currently being harvested from the dam annually.
17 community fishing cooperatives from around Masvingo are harvesting an average of 18 tonnes of fish from the dam annually for sale and domestic consumption as the water body continues to positively impact the ongoing socio-economic transformation in the province.
Private fish breeders operating cages at the dam are recording annual fish hauls of more than 160 tonnes annually, according to figures gleaned from Zimparks.
Government stocked more than 500 000 bream fish fingerlings in the reservoir that was built at the confluence of Tugwi and Mukosi rivers and dissects Masvingo and Chivi districts.
Zimparks Director General Dr Fulton Mangwanya says fish harvested from Tugwi-Mukosi Dam is changing the lives of communities in the two districts.
In a speech read on his behalf by Zimparks Tourism and Customer Services Manager Mr Peter Dhlula during World Tourism Day commemorations hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry at the water body, Dr Mangwanya says besides fishing, the water body is also a tourism low hanging fruit.
“Community empowerment has been done through the issuance of gillnet permits to 17 fishing cooperatives. They are catching an average of 18 tonnes annually which is locally sold to improve the nutritional value of the community,” said Dr Mangwanya.
“Five commercial cage culture permits have been given to investors and they are already producing more than 160 tonnes of fresh fish per annum.
Zimparks is also exploring the possibility of generating more income at Tugwi-Mukosi from rod and line fishing which is attracting lots of interest nationally.
Prospects are also bright for expanding the annual Bass fishing tournament which currently attracts an average of 100 anglers at the dam with participants from neighbouring South Africa already starting to develop interest.
Commissioned in 2017, Tugwi-Mukosi is yet to be fully exploited with the water body having scope for agriculture tourism in downstream areas while its scenic topography and islands have the potential to boost tourism amid plans to build hotels and open casinos.