Illegal fishing continues to take place on Lake Malawi and Lake Malombe in Mangochi District despite that the Department of Fisheries closed the two lakes for fishing from November 1 2019 last year to March 31 2019.
Spot checks within fish selling points in Mangochi and surrounding areas show that the supply of fish is on the increase in most marketplaces.
The increase, according to traditional leaders and fisheries officials, suggests there is rampant illegal fishing on the two lakes.
Mangochi District Fisheries Officer, Neverson Msusa, said they were unable to conduct regular patrols due lack of resources; hence, the increase in illegal fishing.
“In December, we conducted patrols on Lake Malombe where we apprehended two illegal fishermen. However, we are failing to reach to far areas such as Makanjira because we do not have resources such as fuel,” he said.
In December, Msusa said his office mounted two separate road blocks where 90 kilogrammes of Chambo was confiscated from vendors.
“We believe that this Chambo is from the areas where we are not conducting patrols. It is a concern for us because this is the time Chambo is supposed to be breeding,” Msusa said.
Through participatory fisheries management, Msusa said some local beach committees in Malembo arrested six pairs of trawlers which were using illegal fishing nets.
Some fish vendors told The Daily Times that they buy the fish from fishermen at night to avoid being caught by the authorities.
Traditional Authority Lulanga feared that the levels of fish on Lake Malawi will not improve if fishermen continue to disregard the breeding period.
Lulanga also blamed the department of fisheries for failing to conduct frequent patrols during the closed season.
Fisheries researchers say Malawi has lost fish of economic value due to illegal fishing in the recent times.
Malawi’s annual catch is estimated at 120,000 metric tons of fish.
But out of that, Chambo catch is at 4,000 metric tons per annum as opposed to some 20 years ago when the catch was around 30,000 to 40,000 metric tons annually.