Pact Malawi country director Allan Brooks says unless rules and regulations are fully complied with, the future of fisheries in the country will remain bleak.
He was speaking in Mangochi on Friday during the official rollout of a project called Restoring Fisheries for Sustainable Livelihoods in Lake Malawi (Refresh) in the area of Senior Chief Nankumba in Mangochi.
Brooks described Lake Malawi as the only water body in the world debatably with the highest freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem, which he warned will be lost if not properly managed.
He said: “At the moment, fisheries has become unstable because we have single fisheries species manly Utaka and Usipa and that is a big problem. But the situation can be reversed if we bring in rules that everybody can abide by and if we stop destroying breeding areas.”
Brooks said another challenge was that with dwindling fish catches, established commercial fishers are increasing the number of boats on the lake to expand their catches thereby worsening the situation.
He said the USAid-funded Refresh project has a component that will help people venture into other entrepreneurial activities and not just fishing.
On his part, Mangochi District Council chairperson Allan Mmadi welcomed the project and urged all the chiefs along the lake to embrace it and work closely with the project to achieve the intended goals.
He said the amount of catches of fish in Lake Malawi has indeed reached worrisome levels and hoped the Refresh project would help reverse the situation.
The project seeks to improve coordination network for the local fisheries authorities in the eight districts surrounding Lake Malawi and at national level to ensure that fishing regulations are followed so that endemic fish populations are self-sustaining and that Lake Malawi fisheries are managed sustainably by 2024.
It is set to build on the communities’ successes gained from The Fish Project, another Pact-Malawi project which built social, ecological and economic resilience to climate change and significantly improved biodiversity conservation through sustainable fisheries co-management.