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Government admits challenges in fisheries sector

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By Yohane Symon:

The government has challenged experts in the fisheries sector to come up with solutions to challenges the sector faces.

Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha, made the remarks in Mangochi District Monday during the opening of the 6th Pan African Fish and Fisheries Association five-day international conference.

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Mwanamvekha said the government was concerned with the dwindling fish levels in the country’s water bodies due to low investment in the aquaculture sector.

“Let us avoid discussing issues without providing solutions to the problems. This conference must come up with solutions to help us deal with the challenges. We cannot continue discussing problems without finding solutions,” he said.

He observed that failure by relevant stakeholders to invest more in the aquaculture sector is among the major challenges which are putting immense pressure on fisheries.

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“Instead of moving forward, we are going backward. It is a fact that the aquaculture sector is growing slowly despite its potential to grow at a faster rate,” he said.

But local organising committee chairperson, Emmanuel Kaunda, blamed the authorities for what he described as low investment in the aquaculture sector when compared to other African countries.

“In Malawi, investment in the fisheries sector is very low. Our counterparts in Zambia have invested a lot and they have started exporting fish. We need to invest more resources in the sector before we can start getting results,” he said.

Deputy Head of Development Cooperation at the German Embassy, Dagmar Krenz, said there was need for quick solutions to the problems which the fishing sector faces.

“Lake Malawi is a sad example of how bad the situation is in the fisheries sector. You go to a local market; you see the size of fishes sold gets smaller and smaller. As a reaction to overfishing, fishermen are adapting fishing nets. This means that we are harvesting fish which we were supposed to harvest tomorrow. This is a big challenge which this conference needs to find a solution to,” Krenz said.

Recently, the ministry, in its agriculture estimate survey for the third round of the 2017/18 season, indicated that national fish production from capture fisheries and aquaculture increased from 162,687 metric tonnes to 216,347 metric tonnes as compared to the 2016/17 season.

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