Fisheries Research Department has cleared myths that use of light bulbs powered by a motor vehicle battery leads to over fishing in water bodies, including Lake Malawi.
Making a presentation on the dynamics of light fishing before Likoma District full council meeting on Friday, chief fisheries research officer Moffat Mzama
Manase said its findings do not show that the use of light bulbs depletes fish species.
However, he said excessive light in form of the number of bulbs per light board makes the fish migrate away.
Said Manase: “And hence, the fish leave the fishing ground to other areas which might be hard to reach by less sophisticated fishermen.
“However, what poses a big danger to the species is the spillage of kerosene from tilly lamps and acid from the car batteries that they [fishermen] use to power the bulbs as it causes damage to the ecosystem.”
Richard Banda, Likoma district fisheries officer, said 75 out of every 100 fishers on Likoma Island use light bulbs.
On the wrangle between Likoma fishermen and their Chizumulu Island counterparts who completely rejected the new fishing technology and threatened fishers from Likoma not to trespass into their fishing grounds, Manase said that could not be a solution.
Said Manase: “The truth is that the two islands have common fishing grounds, hence use common pool of fish species.
“So, if one side uses light bulbs, the fish in the pool will still follow zooplankton that are attracted by light on the other [island] in search for food and still be caught by those fishermen.”
In his remarks, chairperson of Likoma Fishermen’s Association, Martin Mjima, while agreeing with the research findings, said he was of the opinion that the solution would be to draw a line between subsistence and commercial fishing in Likoma and fix a fee on all commercial fishing as a control.
Unlike other fishing districts in Malawi, Likoma solely relies on fishing for people’s livelihood because there is very little arable land for agriculture or alternative sources of income.
The new fishing technology that uses light bulbs powered by a car battery was received with mixed reactions on Likoma and Chizumulu islands with the fishing community on the latter completely rejecting it.