Following the article in Agri-Malawi about fish in Senga Bay entitled Empty nets, overfishing and climate change sap Lake Malawi (p9 Volume 4 Issue 3 July – September 2019), an NGO based in Nkhata Bay District called RIPPLE Africa would like to highlight the work that they are currently doing to try and ease the problems faced by fishers – not only in Senga Bay but across the whole of Malawi.
High rates of population growth and poor management of fisheries have led to devastating overfishing across the whole of Malawi. In order to try and catch more fish, fishers have been using longer nets with smaller mesh sizes (including mosquito nets). Fish are caught before they have a chance to grow and breed and many species, including the popular Chambo, are now classified as critically endangered.
RIPPLE Africa’s Fish for Tomorrow project empowers local communities to be responsible for fisheries management. Using District bylaws, they work in partnership with Fisheries to protect breeding areas and confiscate illegal fishing gear. The project has been operating in Nkhata Bay since 2012 and in Nkhotakota since 2016 – 2,000 volunteers now work alongside Fisheries staff to protect fish in the lake. Fishers understand their role in conservation and use larger meshed nets to catch bigger fish and earn more money. They have become the solution to their problem.
The project was introduced into Salima District in 2018 and will soon mean that fishers in Senga Bay see the same benefits.
I have attached a photo and will submit a longer article for the printed edition soon. The picture shows Fanwell Mphande, a fisher in Nkhata Bay District and Chair of a fish conservation committee, proudly showing the larger fish that he is now able to catch.