Stakeholders in the fisheries sector have been advised to be proactive in safeguarding fisheries resources in Lake Malawi in preventing practices which could lead to depletion of various fish species.
The call was made Thursday in Nkhata Bay by Pact Malawi Deputy Chief of Party for Restoring Fisheries for Sustainable Livelihoods (REFLESH), Amakhosi Jere when he closed training for fisheries champions on communities’ roles in enhancing responsible fishing.
He said that illegal fishing practices can lead to depletion of diverse fish species and reduction of fish harvest.
“As stakeholders in the fisheries sector, you need to push for formulation of by-laws in your respective areas while also advocating for legally acceptable fishing gears and practices.
In regard to the outdated Fisheries Act of 1994 which is being used, there is a dare need for fishing communities to have by-laws that restrict the use of illegal fishing gears and illegal fishing practices such as catching fish during breeding period,” Jere said.
District Fisheries Enforcement Officer for Nkhata Bay, Evance Mataka said that his office has no boats and other related equipment for conducting patrols on the lake and they outsource the service at intervals.
He said the fisheries sector has high potential in contributing to national development and improved sustainable livelihoods.
“For instance, we have almost 6,000 fishers in the district with only 782 certified meaning that we lose close to K3 billion in addition to reduced fish landing being recorded in recent years,” Mataka said.
One of the trainees, Cyria Adamana, said it was time for communities to protect fisheries resources which they depend on for their livehoods and that it was the responsibility for everyone to advocate and enforce legal fishing practices.
Adamana is a councillor for Nkhata Bay Boma Ward added that there was need to enhance mindset change in communities on fisheries related issues saying such an approach was key to achieving the desired practices.
The trainees among others included information officers, women’s group representatives and chairpersons for fisheries associations, traditional and religious leaders.