Concerns over dwindling fish catches in Lake Malawi: Minister Mwanamvekha calls for lasting solutions

Government, researchers and scientists from Africa and around the world have expressed concern over the dwindling of fish catches in Lake Malawi and they have since called for immediate solutions.

Mwanamvekha: We need lasting solutions

Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha, local and international researchers and scientists made the observation on Monday in Mangochi at the official opening of the Sixth Pan African Fish and Fisheries Association (PAFFA) conference.

PAFFA brings together renowned and upcoming researchers, investors and development partners throughout Africa and around the world focusing on African Fish and Fisheries.

The Minister said the low catches of fish in the country were making the fisheries sector fail to realize its socio-economic benefits and nutritional demands of the country’s population.

“We have had declining catch levels especially for Chambo and other fish species due to overfishing, non-compliance to fishing laws, habitat degradation and climate change,” Mwanamvekha explained.

He said subsequently, the current consumption of fish per person in the country had been reduced by half from 14 kg recorded in the 1980s to 7 kg.

The Minister observed that it was crucial for researchers and scientists gathered at the Sixth PAFFA Conference to find lasting solution to the challenges given the contribution of the fisheries and aquaculture to the country.

“I hope the scientific information generated by scientists and policy makers gathered here will greatly contribute to finding solutions to the problems we’re experiencing in many countries including Malawi,” Mwanamvekha stated.

German Embassy Deputy Head of Development Cooperation, Dagmar Krenz, whose government is contributing much to the development of aquaculture sector in the country through the Aquaculture Value Chain Project, feared that deteriorating catches of fish in Lake Malawi was worrisome development.

She described Malawi as an example for the challenges that the Sixth PAFFA Conference ought to address regarding fish and food security in Africa and aquatic resources conservation and management.

Krenz noted that due to overfishing and environmental degradation the harvest from fisheries was declining in many places including Malawi.

The German diplomat described Lake Malawi as “one sad example” for the immense problem with the size of fish sold at the market getting smaller and smaller meaning that fishermen harvest premature fish that supposed to be harvested in future.

“We need a solution to overfishing today; this will protect the resources of the Lake not only for food security but also for economic development through tourism,” Krenz explained.

She added that, “The Lake should be protected for reasons beyond human interests for the sake of its beauty and biological diversity.”

The conference is expected to run up to Friday and it has drawn researchers, academicians, and investors in the field of fisheries and aquaculture from 35 countries across Africa, North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

The 2018 PAFFA is held under the theme African Fish and Fisheries Diversity, Conservation and Sustainable Management.

PAFFA Conference takes place every five years and Senegal was the first country to host it in 1993 followed by South Africa in 1998; Benin in 2003; Ethiopia in 2008; Burundi in 2013 and Malawi in 2018.

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