Department extends fishing closure on lake
The Department of Fisheries in Mangochi District has closed the Southern part of Lake Malawi for fishing in the next five months starting from November 1 2019 to March 31 2020.
However, fishing on Lake Malombe will resume on April 1 2020 following the closure of the lake on October 1 2019.
However, the Malawi government Fisheries Act provides only two months of November and December as designated for closing Lake Malawi to allow fish to breed.
Previously, the lake was being closed to small scale fishermen only, but this year, commercial fishermen, who use huge fishing vessels, have also been affected as they will not be allowed to ply their trade from December 1 to January 31 2020.
In an interview on Tuesday, District Fisheries Officer, Neverson Msusa, said the stakeholders in the district had noted that the fishing industry is facing challenges that have affected fish levels on the two lakes.
“We have noted that illegal fishing continues to take place on the two lakes of Malombe and Malawi. It is a concern because the fish which is found in Lake Malawi breeds in Lake Malombe so we have decided to extend the period of closing to improve fish levels,” he said.
This year, Msusa said the department has partnered with organisations which provide resources to conduct patrols to ensure that fishermen are adhering to the closed season.
“Since the closure, we have intensified patrols such that we have arrested 17 fishermen who were plying their trade illegally. We have confiscated their fishing gear. We hope to continue patrolling because we are in good partnership with beach village committees who are helping us to patrol the lakes,” he said.
Fisheries researcher, Esau Chisale, said Malawi has lost fish of economic value due to illegal fishing in the recent times.
Currently, Malawi’s annual catch is estimated at 120,000 metric tons. But of the total tonnage, Chisale said Chambo, which fetch a lot of money on the market, is at 4,000 metric tons per annum as opposed to around 30,000 and 40,000 metric tons 20 years ago.