Likoma chiefs raise alarm on exotic fishing technique

The new fishing technique for catching small fish known as usipa, which uses a boat with 10 electric bulbs has caused alarm among chiefs and other fishermen who use traditional lamps for the same, worrying that the new technology might speed up the extinction of the said fish species on the lake.

According to group village head (GVH) Mnkhwemba of Ulisa, a fisher himself, the method is alien and at the moment they cannot afford to stand by and watch the species getting extinct as the new technology might likely result into overfishing.

“We don’t have agricultural land or mines on the island. Our only mine is the lake. We have children. What will happen when we let this technique overtake us?” wondered Mnkhwemba.

Traditional fishing methods help preserve fish
Traditional fishing methods preserve fish

The worry was expressed during a recent interactive meeting which invited chiefs, Village Development Committees (VDCs), Area Development Committee (ADC), Beach Village Committees (BVC) and the District Fisheries Office.

Ahead of the just elected councillors taking office, the forum agreed to tighten by-laws on fishing, saying the matter was of urgency.

The island district’s director of planning and development (dpd), Ted Gondwe, said the general extinction of species due to overfishing was indeed a serious cause for worry for inhabitants of the two sister islands of Likoma and Chizumulu.

“Just two years ago, one would buy three Chambo fish at the price of K500 or even less. Now the same three chambo fish are sold for K1 000 at times, a clear indication that our fish is going,” said Gondwe.

“This meeting is timely; let’s remember that as much as we are free to fish in our waters, we also have the responsibility to safeguard these fish,” said chairperson of Likoma ADC, Sajiwandani in his remarks.

On his part, district fisheries officer, Richard Banda, expressed challenges that his office has in patrolling the fishing areas.

“My office is under-staffed and often, our speed boat is under maintenance. In addition, we rely on VDCs to alert us on any counterproductive fishing practices so we can intervene immediately.

“But it’s rare that we get such tips. People have the syndrome of shielding each other,” said.

The forum had unanimously agreed on a penalty of K600 000 fine on any one found using these electric bulbs on the lake, as a way of discouraging the malpractice.

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