Fish Conservation

BRIEF SUMMARY

Key Benefits

What We Have Achieved

How We Work

The Project’s Future

What It Costs
By donating to this project, you will help RIPPLE Africa to fund its Fish Conservation team to monitor and extend the programme. However, half of the money collected from the local permit fees goes towards funding the Fish Conservation Committees to ensure that they are financially self-sustaining for the future.


FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROJECT
Why Is It So Important?
Over the past number of decades, there has been a massive growth of unregulated fishing in Lake Malawi which has now led to acute shortages of fish stocks.

  • There has been a huge increase in the number of fishermen on Lake Malawi
    There has been a huge increase in the number of fishermen on Lake Malawi
  • Because fish stocks are so depleted, many fishermen now use very long nets
    Because fish stocks are so depleted, many fishermen now use very long nets
  • The mesh size of the nets has reduced and many small fish are caught before they have a chance to breed
    The mesh size of the nets has reduced and many small fish are caught before they have a chance to breed

In 2012, RIPPLE Africa worked with local community members and district authorities to develop local bylaws to protect a 40km stretch of lakeshore along Lake Malawi in the Nkhata Bay District of Malawi, Africa.

The bylaws:

To support, advocate, and regulate these fish conservation bylaws, RIPPLE Africa has set up local Fish Conservation Committees whose members include fishermen and non-fishermen. The Committees, together with the District Fisheries Department, manage the local permit system, and monitor and regulate illegal activity in each Committee’s designated area.

Lake Malawi is home to more species of fish than any other body of freshwater in the world. In addition to being of huge interest to the planet on an ecological and environmental basis, Lake Malawi’s fish population provides a major source of protein to the Malawian people, and over 300,000 people in the country rely on catching or trading fish as part or all of their primary income.

  • Fish are the main source of protein for many Malawians
    Fish are the main source of protein for many Malawians
  • Most of the large fish have disappeared along the lakeshore, and fishermen are now catching usipa, small fish which are found further out in deeper water
    Most of the large fish have disappeared along the lakeshore, and fishermen are now catching usipa, small fish which are found further out in deeper water

However, Lake Malawi is in crisis. Overfishing, as well as changes over time in the length of fishing nets and a reduction in the size of net mesh, mean that young fish are caught before they have time to develop and breed. Dwindling fish stocks can have disastrous implications for fishermen, families, and the ecology of Lake Malawi.

While the government has Fisheries Departments in place in each of the Districts bordering Lake Malawi to educate, regulate and advocate for better fishing practices, these Departments are drastically underfunded and are rarely able to fulfil these goals.

RIPPLE Africa’s fish conservation project is important because it tackles this national problem through local networks, empowers local communities and officials to take control of the situation in their own areas, and is a sustainable approach both environmentally and financially.

The project is also popular and well-supported by local people – including local fishermen – because it is a form of protectionism shielding local fishermen and business from larger exploitative migratory fishing practices.

  • Drying fish in the sun
    Drying fish in the sun
  • Drying fish over a fire
    Drying fish over a fire
  • People often catch tiny fish with mosquito nets during the breeding season
    People often catch tiny fish with mosquito nets during the breeding season

What We Have Achieved

How We Work

RIPPLE Africa is committed to empowering local communities to find sustainable solutions to local problems. Therefore, we have helped the communites to set up local Fish Conservation Committees who are now responsible for the fishing in their area. They are supported by the Fisheries Department, District Council, Traditional Authorities (Senior Chiefs) and RIPPLE Africa and, by working together, they are achieving amazing results.

The Project’s Future

Word about the success of the project is now spreading to other areas, such as a village called Katenthere where they have identified protected breeding areas and are encouraging fishermen to use larger sized nets and stopping people from catching the baby chambo fish with mosquito nets. This is now banned since the introduction of the Fish Conservation Project.

Fish Conservation in Africa, not just Malawi, is an ever increasing problem, and RIPPLE Africa will continue to promote the project along the shores of Lake Malawi and work with other fishing communities to encourage them to adopt the same approach.

Links to Documents