Kapenta


Kapenta

The Tanganyika sardine, known as Kapenta in Zambia and Zimbabwe or Dagaa or Ndgaa elsewhere, is really two species (Lake Tanganyika sardine "Limnothrissa miodon" and Lake Tanganyika sprat "Stolothrissa tanganicae") both of which are small, planktivorous, pelagic, freshwater clupeid originating from Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. They form the major biomass of pelagic fish in Lake Tanganyika, swimming in large schools in the open lake, feeding on copepods and potentially jellyfish. Their major predators are four species of "Lates" which are also endemic to Lake Tanganyika, and are related to (but not the same as) the Nile Perch in Lake Victoria. All of these pelagic fish have suffered from overfishing in the last two decades.

"Limnothrissa miodon" has been successfully introduced in both natural and artificial African lakes. Large kapenta fisheries now take place in the Lake Kariba (Zambia/Zimbabwe) and Cahora Bassa (Mozambique).

This fish is caught at night using lights to attract it. A dip net generally about six meters in diameter is used to bring the fish up from anything from 40 meters (130 ft). It is then salted at a ratio normally of 2.5 kg per 30 kg (1 lb per 12 lb) of fish, and dried in the hot Zambezi Valley sun. It is hugely important staple, providing refrigeration-free protein to people of Africa. A cup of dried kapenta will feed a family.

It is an important bait fish for the Tigerfish (Alestiidae family) and although introduced in Kariba and Cahora Bassa, does not seem to have harmed the environment.

An important contributor to the economies of the areas it is caught in.


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