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Project lauds indigenous ways of restoring fish

Restoring Fisheries for Sustainable Livelihoods (REFRESH) Project has emphasized the importance of adopting traditional models of preserving and restoring fish.

Daniel Jamu, Chief of Party for REFRESH Project – which is being implemented by Pact Malawi with funding from USAID – made the remarks on Monday, during the opening of Mbenji Island, which was closed in December to allow fish to breed in Salima District in the area of Senior Chief Makanjira.

Jamu said reinforcing traditional ways of bringing sanity across Lakeshore districts will further tighten efforts towards curbing illegal fishing and using of unauthorized fishing gears.

“Indigenous knowledge of conserving fish and prudent management of fishery resources are encouraged because the practices have been there and have been passed on from generation to generation for many decades,” he said.

Jamu further said encouraging and patronizing Mbenji Island closing and opening ceremonies emphasize the importance of adopting indigenous ways of preserving fish.

He added that there is need for other chiefs to learn the indigenous ways of fisheries management from Senior Chief Makanjira, as this aligns with REFRESH’s promotion of decentralized fisheries management with the communities taking charge of their resources.

Senior Chief Makanjira (first left) amongst other chiefs

“The importance of decentralized fisheries management in collaboration with the communities cannot be overemphasized, as communities take charge of their natural resources having in mind that it belongs to them and it can be passed for many generations,” he said.

Salima District Fisheries Officer Patrick Zakeyo concurred with Jamu by describing the closing of Mbenji Island as a complimentary activity to government’s efforts of observing breeding seasons.

He said the fisheries sector welcomes lucrative ideas that aim at giving space to fish to breed without distractions, adding that they will continue supporting the closing of the island.

“There is a set period by government for closing and opening of the fishing season; during this period, we intensify patrolling and inspection of the lake so that there should not be fishing activities to give room for breeding of our fish,” he said.

On his part, Senior Chief Makanjira underscored the need for reinforcing locally set fishing regulations to protect the island.

“We condemn practices such as limiting the number of fishing gear, regulating the size of the mesh, banning the use of mosquito nets; we have put in place stiff punishment to every illegal fishing activity,” he said.

Mbenji Island is located approximately ten kilometres from the mainland. Since the opening of the island in April 2023, it has been reported that about 3,000 fishermen from within Salima, Nkhatabay and Likoma Island have been on the island.

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