Fishermen in Mangochi have asked government through the Department of Fisheries to engage the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) in patroling Lake Malawi fishing areas to keep illegal fishing in check.
The fishing community made the call on Tuesday during a media tour organized by the Department of Fisheries to allow the media interact with community fishing structures of Lake Malombe and Lake Malawi to appreciate their understanding of fishing closed season.
Village Headman Mapaliro, one of the seasoned fishermen on the tip-end of Lake Malawiin Mangochi said although there were Village Beach Committees (BVC) in place to keep illegal fishing away on the lake, they were not equipped enough to deal with illegal commercial fishermen.
The Village Headman, whose real name is Kenneth Mtambo Ngwati, appealed to government to engage MDF like it is the case with the illegal mining issue in Makanjira to allow the fish in Lake Malawi breed peacefully during the closed season.
“LetMDF patrol the lake because all efforts have failed,” said Mapaliro. “We have a very vibrant Village Beach Committee here which works with the Fisheries Department to keep illegal fishing in check in our designated area but that only happens during day time.
“The illegal fishermen who use commercial engine boats invade our area at night and there is nothing we can do about it even during day time because we don’t have boats to ou trace them”.
Members of Michesi BVC and Sub Fishing Association in Group Village Headman Michesi,Traditional Authority Mponda, concurred with Mapaliro on the need to involve MDF in bringing sanity to fishing on the lake.
According to the members, commercial fishermen do not only fish during the closed season but they also encroach in no-go areas like Area A which is the area around Maldeco Fisheries and Malindi on the other side.
They also claimed that the commercial farmers were using small-eyed nets whichc aught fish as small as Usipa, contrary to the fishing regulations.
But Chief Fisheries Extension Officer, Alban Pulaizi, told journalists in an interview that the Department of Fisheries had already approached the MDF on the matter and that their meeting was promising.
Pulaizi said the reason behind engaging MDF was to rid the lake of all unlicensed fishermen before the department implemented Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) which would keep illegal fishing well detected.
“We issued a public notice about two weeks ago that from 1st January 2019 we will be installing Vessel Monitoring System in all licensed fishing boats so that we should be able to track them even from our offices whether they are keeping to their designated fishing area or not,” explained Pulaizi.
He added: “This is why we had a meeting with the MDF at Monkey Bay for possible engagement so that they clean up the lake by keeping away unlicensed commercial fishermen before we embark on the VMS installation.”
Meanwhile, Lake Malombe and Lake Malawi are in closed season since 30th October and 30th November respectively until 31st March to allow fish to breed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :