Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha has said Malawi’s dwindling fish resources have led to a decline in fish consumption.
He was speaking when he opened the five-day Sixth Pan-African Fish and Fisheries Association (Paffa) global conference at Sun and Sand Holiday Resort in Mangochi yesterday.
Said Mwanamvekha: “Per capita fish consumption [fish one eats annually] has declined from 14 kilogrammes to seven per person. This is primarily because of overfishing which has depleted the stock. I wish the conference, with its global calibre, will help us come up with solutions to the problems we face.”
In his remarks, German Embassy deputy head of development and cooperation Dagmar Krenz said holding the conference by the shores of Lake Malawi is not just about its beauty, but because it represents major challenges in fish and food security African countries face.
He said: “Lake Malawi is one sad example of an immense problem. When you go to the local markets, you see the size of the fish sold getting smaller. As a reaction to overfishing, fishers adapt the mesh sizes of their fishing nets, thereby harvesting premature fish.”
Krenz said as the country’s fish resources dwindle, nutrition levels are also going down, leaving one third of under-five children stunted.
According to director of Africa Centre of Excellency Aquaculture and Fisheries (Aquafish) Emmanuel Kaunda, it is important that the research findings are published to help government formulate relevant policies.
During the opening, Mwanamvekha also launched three documents produced with support from the German and United States of America governments, namely National Fisheries Aquaculture Research Agenda, National Fisheries Communications Strategy and Fish Value Chain Project Baseline Report.
The conference, whose theme is African Fish and Fisheries: Diversity, Conservation and Sustainable Management, has brought together about 300 delegates. n