Rising fish volumes and prices pushed up earnings for the sector by 11.23 percent, government statistics indicate.
Figures from the published 2019 Annual Economic Report indicatesthat in 2018, fish landings had a beach or landed value of K196.69 billion ($273.18 million), with a volume of 221 849.08 metric tonnes (MT) compared to the K173.04 billion ($235.74 million) realised the previous year from the sale of 199 454 MT.
The national average beach price was K928.96 per kilogramme (kg) of fish in 2018, a rise from K867.95 per kg the prior year with Chambo fetching the highest price at K1 557 per kg.
This pushed up per capita fish consumption, reaching 12.63 kg per person per year, from 12.47 kg per person per year in 2017, which is closer to the recommended 13 to 15 kg of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
During the period under review, fish exports generated K226.058 million from the sale of 49 780 live fish, which is sligh;ty higher that the K167.172 million made from the sale of 36 367 live fish the year before.
Hong Kong was the major importer of Malawi’s ornamental fish (K71 586 140) followed by China (K50 663 536) and Germany (K49 879 704).
Director in the Fisheries Department Friday Njaya said while total fish production has been increasing, over 60 per cent constitutes Usipa and other small fish species.
He, however, said habitat degradation, non compliance to fishing regulations and limited alternative sources of income for lakeshore fishing communities threatens the development of the sector.
“As government, there are several measures including introduction of a vessel monitoring system for trawlers on Lake Malawi, reviewing fishing regulations and enhancing fish quality, promoting adoption of better fish processing facilities like solar rent driers, and promoting fish farming,” he said.
Meanwhile, Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha, in his 2019/20 National Budget presentation announced the removal of customs duty on equipment and items that focus on promotion of aquaculture, a move that businesses says needs a grand plan to establish and sustain this industry.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira told Business News that the responsible need is to come up with an action plan to build a thriving aquaculture industry.
“Customs duty removal is by its nature only a temporary relief. It is competitiveness of the industry that will count and sustain the industry in the end,” he said.
The fisheries sector composed of the capture fisheries, aquaculture and aquarium trade sub-sectors, and currently employs 63 023 people and contributes over 70 percent of the dietary animal protein intake of Malawians and 40 percent of the total protein supply.