Salima, Malawi 8th February, 2023 (AEJ) - In an effort to promote responsible fishing along Lake Malawi shore, USAID Restoring Fisheries for Sustainable Livelihoods in Lake Malawi (REFRESH) has embarked on an awareness raising campaign reaching out to commercial fishers to orient them on the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) code of conduct for responsible fisheries.
FAO code of conduct are global guidelines that informs country specific policies and regulations in fisheries management. They set out principles and standards of behaviour for responsible practices with a view to ensuring effective conservation, management, and development of living aquatic resources.
Analysts hope that once implemented and agreed to, they will bring the much-needed sanity in an industry that now support millions of the country's livelihoods, the economy at large through the country’s Gross Domestic Product contribution which is pegged at 4 percent.
In his remarks deputy director of fisheries responsible for training, Yoyola Phiri who also heads the Malawi College of Fisheries explained on the sidelines of event that there is a need to ensure harmony between commercial fishers that ply their trade on the Lake and fisheries department as the government technical arm that is mandated to manage fisheries resources.
“One key element about this collaboration is a need to adhere to the code of conduct. One important expectation is for commercial fishers to share accurate data that can help to inform policy and legislation framework at decision making level. We are hoping that with well-informed policies and legislation, the challenges that faces the sector that provides livelihoods and nutritional security of over 70 percent animal protein in Malawi will be addressed. This is in line with both regional protocols and continental frameworks to which Malawi is a signatory,” Yoyola explained in an interview.
Taking his turn, Principal Fisheries Officer responsible for monitoring, surveillance and control Dave Khumbanyiwa observed it was high time that commercial fishers are made aware of the code so that when they are doing their fishing activities they adhere to existing fisheries regulations.
Commercial Fishers Association Secretary Martin Banda extended appreciation to REFRESH and department of fisheries for the awareness programme. Banda observed that to ensure fisheries resource sustainability they follow the areas they were allocated and assigned to do fishing and adhere to the closed season to allow breeding to take place.
“In Malawi fish is the only major source of protein providing over 70 percent protein to Malawians and very affordable to a majority of the population. It is also the sector the employs more women as part of economic empowerment,” Banda who is a commercial fisher reiterated.
REFRESH aims at conserving the lake’s freshwater biodiversity and restore capture fisheries’ productivity in the lakeshore districts of Karonga, Rumphi, Likoma, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Salima, Dedza, and Mangochi.