Twelve Weeks of Christmas – Week 10

We’re now into December, and this is the 10th week of our 12 Weeks of Christmas stories. If you want to make a difference to people’s lives in Malawi, why don’t you buy a Christmas gift from our Christmas Gift Catalogue.

An amazing gift of £215 helps ensure that there are fish in Lake Malawi for future generations

Fanwell Mphande is the Chairperson of the Chiwana Fish Conservation Committee, which RIPPLE Africa and the District Fisheries Department have helped set up. He is extremely passionate about protecting the fish breeding area near him to ensure there will be fish in the future for his granddaughter Mary.

In total this year eight new breeding areas have been set up, which are being protected by the local Fish Conservation Committee Members to stop people using mosquito nets to catch baby fish as small as one centimetre long. This allows millions of chambo fish, a popular but endangered species, in each breeding area to grow and breed in the future.

Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa and the most diverse freshwater lake in the world, but like everywhere else it is suffering from overfishing. Malawians rely on fish to provide 70% of the protein in their diet, but with the increasing population the resources are being stretched. This has resulted in more fishermen using longer nets with smaller mesh sizes – meaning that smaller fish are caught and not allowed to grow and breed as they should.

This year RIPPLE Africa has achieved great success with its Fish Conservation project. At the start of the year the first four month closed season came to an end. This was a result of working with the local communities to introduce bylaws to give fish longer to breed and mature. During this period most fishing is restricted, but fishermen will still be able to catch large catfish with lines and nets with large mesh sizes.

We’ve introduced the project along a 40km stretch of lakeshore, helping to set up local Fish Conservation Committees who then ensure the new bylaws are adhered to. Local fishermen are very happy because it has meant a restriction on migrant fishermen who have come from other areas that have been more heavily overfished than our area. Therefore, more fish are available for the local community and larger fish are now being caught. Furthermore, many illegal fishing nets have been confiscated by the local committees to reduce damaging fishing practices.

This November will see the start of the next four month closed season, which we hope will continue to be a success and provide fish for future generations of Malawians and children like Mary. As with all our environmental projects we work hard to educate the local communities about how the benefits of conservation can help them live more sustainably.

Your gift will help us ensure that this work continues and that we are able to extend the project along the Lake Malawi shoreline to ensure that more fishermen like Fanwell can make sure that their grandchildren have food and a source of income in the future.

On behalf of Fanwell and other Lake Malawi fishermen, we’d like to say Thank You for taking the time to read about one of our environmental projects.

Tawonga Ukongwa!

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