Freshwater, Fish and the Future: Proceedings of the Global Cross-Sectoral Conference

Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries and Aquaculture in Southern Lake Malawi: Key Challenges during the Planning Stage

Friday Njaya

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9789251092637.ch29

Abstract .—This paper presents key challenges and lessons experienced during the ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture (EAFA) planning process for the southern Lake Malawi, Mangochi district. This is in response to a near collapse or serious decline of chambo (Oreochromis sp.) harvests in the fishing area due to various ecological and socioeconomic problems such as overfishing, weak enforcement, habitat degradation, conflicting management policies, and deforestation. The estimated annual chambo harvest recorded between 4,000 and 5,000 metric tons in the early 1980s from southern Lake Malawi has now declined by almost 50%. The reduced catch represents a loss of about 2 × 109 Malawi kwacha, which is approximately US$5.5 million using 2012 chambo beach prices. The decline in both catch and revenue, therefore, justifies the need to identify policy and governance reforms for recovery and sustainable management of the fishery. Stakeholders recommended the development and implementation of an EAFA plan to guide rebuilding the chambo populations. Aquaculture development within the fishing area was also taken into account for increased supply of farmed chambo for food, nutritional security, and improved livelihoods of the local communities. Key challenges and lessons from the EAFA development process include setting objectives, defining boundaries, extent of consultations, commitment of stakeholders, stakeholder participation, overdependence on fishing, open-access nature of the fishery, conflicts, and limited availability of data. The ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture is a suitable management approach as it considers varied socioeconomic and ecological objectives of a user community.