Fishers along the Shire River and other fishing grounds in Nsanje District are using mosquito nets for fishing which the Fisheries Department has described a s worrisome.
Assistant District Fisheries Officer, Daniel Binga in an interview on Friday said the population of the fishermen using non-recommended fishing gear is very high in the district.
“The increase in using the mosquito nets for fishing in the Shire River by the fishermen is contributing to fish extinction in the river as such fishing gears harvest almost everything including fish eggs and very small fish that would be reserved for future,” he noted.
Binga said his office was trying its best to control the practice and there was hope that very soon the population of those fishermen using such nets will decrease.
“We have put some procedures to reduce such malpractice which includes civic education to the fishermen on the negative effects of using mosquito nets for fishing.
“We have formed village committees that are responsible for the protection of the fish species in the fishing grounds along the Shire River. These committees have their by-laws that enable them to deal with fishermen who are using the prohibited fishing gear. So far they have managed to apprehend some of the fishermen’s mosquito nets and burn them into ashes,” the officer said.
Nsanje District Fisheries Department has started engaging the fishermen to construct their own ponds in groups through the Local Development Fund (LDF) projects.
One of the fishers, James Matthias who comes from Nthukuso village, Traditional Authority (TA) Malemia in the district said they buy mosquito nets at only K300 from their fellow villagers, mostly pregnant women and families with under five children, which is a low price comparing to the recommended fishing nets.
”We are poor and we do not generate enough money to buy the recommended fishing nets. This is the reason we just go for mosquito nets that are cheap and locally available,” he explained.
Another fisher, Charles Bicycle from Ndenguma Village in the same TA said they know that such nets are not recommended for fishing but they opt for them as currently the river has run out of large fish.