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Illegal fishing gear still rampant, researchers say

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The Research Division in the Department of Fisheries has found that fishers continue to use prohibited fishing equipment, which could reduce stocks of fish in Lake Malawi and other water bodies in the country.

The assessment was conducted with support from Sustainable Fisheries, Aquaculture Development and Watershed Management (SFAD–WM) Project on fishing habits, fish stocks and water quality of Mlare and Chiwondo lagoons in Karonga District.

The research, which was conducted in February this year, was aimed at appreciating opportunities and challenges that would guide those developing a fisheries management plan.

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Chief Fisheries Officer Maxon Ngochera said in Mzuzu Wednesday that the research had three objectives, one of which was to discover the number of fishers in the two areas.

“We also wanted to learn about their fishing crafts and the types of fishing gear they use for catching fish. Secondly, we wanted to determine the fish species available in those fishing lagoons. What are the sizes? And, lastly, we wanted to determine the quality of water if it could sustain fisheries so that fish can bleed.

“In terms of fishing gear that we found, it is unfortunate that we found some that we, as a department, do not recommend because they catch either juvenile fish or they are also not very effective in catching fish,” he said.

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Among other things, the department found mosquito nets and monofilament fishing materials which were banned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development in 2020.

Apparently, the Malawi Revenue Authority has also banned importation of monofilament nets which are not readily biodegradable, hence posing serious ecological and environmental hazards to Malawi’s aquatic life.

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