A Fisheries expert has warned that unless Malawi introduces major regulatory transformations, the local fisheries sector might collapse.
Pact Malawi Chief of Party, Alan Brooks, made the remarks on Friday during the launch of a K10 billion Restoring Fisheries for Sustainable Livelihoods in Lake Malawi (Refresh) project which the United States Agency for International Development is funding.
Coincidently, first round agriculture estimates for 2019/2020 show that fish production has decreased from 202,092 metric tonnes last year to 169,140 metric tonnes this year, representing 19.1 percent.
Brooks said Malawi’s fisheries sector has become so unstable that there is fear it might collapse if authorities fail to bring new regulations for commercial and small-scale fishermen.
“There is need for major transformation in the fisheries sector in the way fisheries is managed and regulated. We also need special coordination among the fisheries authorities in all lakeshore districts and at national level to properly implement national fishery framework,” he said.
Brooks said there is need to allow local fishermen and communities to take part in the formulation and implementation of fisheries regulations.
“Malawi’s fisheries sector used to contribute tremendously to the socio-economic development of the country when it was multi-species. But now the sector is only surviving on a single species of fish namely usipa. This has affected a lot of lives for local fishermen,” he said.
Brooks said through the Refresh project, Pact Malawi and its partners will engage beach village committee members for them to form separate bylaws restricting entry of new fishermen into their respective fishing bays.
He said the five-year project will also tackle environmental degradation to ensure that fish breeding areas are protected and rehabilitated for fish regeneration.
Mangochi District Council Chairperson, Alan M’madi, said lack of resources sometimes limits the council’s ability to monitor and enforce fishing regulations on Lake Malawi.
The project will be implemented in lakeshore districts of Mangochi, Dedza, Salima, Nkhotakota, Nkhata Bay, Likoma, Rumphi and Karonga.
This is the second fisheries project to be launched in Malawi this year following another one worth K13 billion which the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development launched earlier this month.
Pact is involved in innovative capacity development approaches that help communities gain self-reliance and resilience.