MPONELA, Malawi 05th December, 2021 (AEJ) - The Fisheries Department in partnership with the USAID supported Restoring Fisheries for Sustainable Livelihoods in Lake Malawi (Refresh) on Saturday reached out to the parliamentary committee on natural resources and climate change to present the state of fisheries and aquaculture sectors in Malawi.
Fisheries Director, Friday Njaya explained that they have all along been using the ecosystem-based fisheries management as an integrated approach that focuses on the coherent broad-based management of fisheries resources in lakes and rivers as well as upland or catchment areas.
Njaya observed that experience has shown that what takes place upland like cultivating along river banks, improper management of waste or cutting down of trees negatively affect life in water through erosion, siltation and pollution.
During a presentation, Principal Fisheries Officer, Davie Khumbanyiwa underscored the importance of the fishery sector as a major source of food and nutrition security supplying 60 percent of animal protein amongst most rural households in Malawi.
He added that the sector employs thousands of Malawians in the fish value chain. In terms of employment opportunities over 70,000 people earn a living through capture fisheries and fish farming and an additional over 500,000 people benefit from fish-related activities in the value chain. In terms of economic contribution, the sector contributes about 4 percent to the Gross Domestic Product.
“The aquaculture sub-sector continues to show that in total there are approximately 15,465 fish farmers where 61.51 percent are males and 38.49 percent are females with a total recorded number of ponds currently at 10,000 countrywide with a total pond area of 251.59 hectares,” explained Khumbanyiwa adding as an adaptation measure integrated water use is appropriate in the wake of emerging challenges as a result of climate change.
Chair of Natural Resources Committee Werani Chilenga observed there is link between fishing and forestry sector adding when fish species dwindle communities’ resort to burn trees to make charcoal for a living.
This situation was apparent in the Lake Chilwa when the water level receded. This forced the fisher folk community to resort to cutting down trees on Chisi island.
Njaya then urged parliamentarians to consider constructing fish ponds in their respective areas as role models. He added that fish harvested would generate lots of revenue in millions of Kwacha. They would then replicate the farming using constituency development funds in the long term.
Refresh deputy chief of party, Daniel Jamu called upon legislators to help drum support on fisheries issues and to lobby the tabling of the fisheries bill in the next sitting of parliament.
Jamu also highlighted the missing out of Chambo fish as a delicacy among Malawian diet, as it is now in short supply.
"The deficit for chambo which we are failing to overturn due low aquaculture productivity, is largely due to lack of high quality feed. This deficit now is being met by tilapia imports from Zambia, Mozambique and Asia. Public Private Partnership agreement in developing a feed mill is urgently needed to increase productivity and reduce feed and tilapia imports," Jamu sounded the alarm while calling for support from the committee.
Jamu also advocated for more financial resources to strengthen enforcement capacity in terms of staff, equipment like boats to help in surveillances of illegal activities on the lake at both district and national level to improve compliance and revenue collection from the sector.
Adequate resources he explained would support filling in of vacant positions, vehicles, to enhance mobility rehabilitation of offices and staff houses, enhancing compliance to fishing rules and regulations and purchasing of engine for research vessel RV Ndunduma.