A team of fisheries scientists and limnologists, who have completed fisheries biomass survey aimed to establish the health of the fish stocks, says data collected will help to determine the potential for commercial fishing industry and possible number of fishing licenses on Lake Malawi.
Head of Fisheries Research Station based at Monkey Bay in Mangochi Maxon Ngochera said in an interview on Thursday the survey, wants to among others, determine fish species composition and size distribution by area; assess current fish biomass levels by area and develop bio-physical indicators of fish abundance and biodiversity, and make fish management recommendations.
He said: “Each year, Department of Fisheries issues commercial fishing licenses and this has to be based on up-to- date information on status of fish species present on the lake.
“Data on standing biomass by area is vital in estimating the number of commercial fishing units that can be allocated per fishing zone.”
Ngochera explained that the survey also explores and determines new and potential fishing grounds within the length and breadth of the Lake as an aquatic ecosystem.
Presently, all the data is being tabulated and a final report is expected to be completed before end of the year.
In reaction to the development that has taken over 15 years, professor Emmanuel Kaunda, the director of Aquafish Centre of Excellence and Coordinator of the Auda-Nepad, Southern African Network of Biosciences at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, applauded the research efforts arguing it will help estimate what species we have on Lake Malawi.
“You need to know where to go especially if you are involved in commercial fishing. This data will guide species distribution and abundance which is crucial information for an investor venturing in commercial fishing initiatives,” he said.
Restoring Fisheries for Sustainable Livelihoods in Lake Malawi (Refresh), a USAid- funded project which builds on communities’ successes under USAid and Pact’s FISH project is providing support for research unit to conduct the survey.