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Researcher cautions Lake Chiuta community on lake reliance

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Chief Fisheries Research Officer in the Department of Fisheries Moffat Manase has advised communities surrounding Lake Chiuta to minimise overreliance on Lake Chiuta as their source of food and income since there are times the lake becomes unreliable.

The researcher’s warning comes barely few months after the lake dried up living the communities destitute and trekking to Mozambique in search of greener pastures.

Manase said the 2016 scenario should be a lesson to all families that have surrounded and rely on the lake.

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“The lake is recovering from last year’s drought, it is not yet full. The past experience should be food for thought for everyone who depends on this lake. The future of Lake Chiuta is either bright or doomed,” he said.

However, Manase said there is a bright future in the fishing industry but fish management has always been a problem countrywide, adding that there is a need to raise the profile of fish in the country.

Lake Chiuta Fish Technician Eluby Kacholola said communities around the lake are now being advised to diverse their businesses as the lake is now becoming unreliable as a source of income.

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Kacholola said communities around the lake are being encouraged to join village saving groups after getting capital from their fishing business.

“We are doing all this to avoid overreliance on the lake. The community is being sensitised that over-depending on the lake is a mistake due to climate change. People should at least venture into various small businesses to complement fishing,” said Kacholola.

Governance and Capacity Development Specialist at Pact Dick Kachilonda said with the Fisheries Integration of Society and Habitats Project being implemented at the lake, the community should have hope that things will turn for the better.

He said Pact recognises that the lake plays a significant role in the lives of many communities within Chiuta and his organisation will continue to build capacity among the communities in order to restore the lake though, sometimes, effects of climate change are unpredictable.

Chiuta has been known to be the home of over 37 fish species including chambo, cat fish locally called mlamba and matemba.

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