Coping strategies for fishers towards invasive alien plant species ( salvinia molesta) at Lukanga swamp, central Zambia.

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Njobvu, Jimmy
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The University of Zambia
Lukanga Swamp in Zambia, is one of the major fisheries which has been invaded by the aquatic invasive species commonly known as Kariba weed (Salvinia molesta).Generally, studies show that in areas where aquatic weeds occur, fish populations and catches are reduced and this problem is not restricted to a particular geographical area but is common to all water bodies where aquatic weeds have invaded. A fundamental problem facing fishers at Lukanga Swamp, is therefore, how to maintain satisfactory levels of fish catches with the presence of S. molesta. This study, therefore, investigated how the fishers are coping with the presence of S. molesta at Lukanga Swamp. The study focused on identifying major coping strategies of fishers towards the presence of S. molesta and the effectiveness of the identified coping strategies. The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods of collecting and analysing data. The target population were the fishers and residents of Waya a nearby village. 41 fishers and 4 key informants were purposively selected and interviewed whereas 150 residents of Waya village were randomly selected and interviewed. An interview schedule and interview guides were used to collect qualitative data from fishers and key informants, whereas a questionnaire was used for quantitative data from Waya residents. Qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis whereas quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics comprising frequencies and means. The effectiveness of the coping strategies was assessed using a 5-Point Likert Scale Method. To determine how different the ratings of the effectiveness of the coping strategies were, an ANOVA test was conducted.The results of the study showed that the presence of S. molesta at the swamp led to a number of challenges to fishers which included; difficulties in boat navigation (28.8%),and swamping of fishing grounds (22%). For the survey, results also indicated that fishing related activities have decreased due to the presence of the weed at the swamp. The major coping strategies for fishers identified in this study among others included; manual removal of the weed in infested routes (39%) and shifting to open waters which are less affected by the weed (26.8%). For the survey, those involved in fishing related activities such as fish traders have resorted to farming (66.5%) as coping strategy. Results further show that most of the coping strategies of the fishers at Lukanga Swamp were rated as either ineffective or fairly effective. The ANOVA test showed that the rating of the coping strategies of respondents were more with ineffective ratings (Mean=53) than with other ratings. Therefore, statistically, it can be concluded that the respondents felt the coping strategies were ineffective. In conclusion, the study has shown that the presence of the weed at Lukanga swamp has affected the livelihood of the fishers and how they are struggling to cope with its invasion effectively. The study has also highlighted that effectively dealing with invasive species is a costly exercise which the lower income earning Lukanga fishers cannot afford. The study, therefore, recommends the need for responsible institutions such as ZEMA to develop relevant measures, policies, regulations and effective institutional and operational responsibilities for addressing invasive species. There is also need for follow up studies to further understand the ecological effects of the presence of S. molesta on the natural resources at Lukanga Swamp.