Blantyre, Deputy Director of Fisheries in the Department of Fisheries, Dr Steve Donda has urged Chiefs in the Eastern Region to be in the forefront in protecting lakes within their jurisdiction in order to increase overall fish stocks.
Dr Donda said this during a recent meeting between Eastern Region Chiefs and PACT facilitated by Fisheries Integration of Society and Habitats (FISH) Project in Liwonde.
Dr Donda said Chiefs are custodians of culture, as such, they play a vital role in educating masses on the importance of preserving lakes for the benefit of future generations.
The chiefs that are here have been drawn from the districts of Mangochi, Zomba and Machinga.
Overall, we are explaining to them the benefits of lake conservation. They are very aware that fish stocks are decreasing and they have always been interested in becoming part of the solution for the future, said Donda.
On his part, Dr Dick Kachilonda who is Governance and Capacity Development Specialist for FISH Project said the aim of the project is to intensify capacity building among communities on how to manage the lakes considering that it plays a crucial role in the lives of many people.
He said despite the obvious importance of fish to the health and economies of local communities, fish is under threat due to population growth, catchment degradation, climate change and unsustainable harvest and management practices.
Our meeting with Chiefs is just one component of the project in trying to create a network for collaboration and integration, encouraging sharing of skills and expertise across similar geographic locations throughout our catchment area, he said.
In his remarks, Paramount Chief Kawinga of Machinga said in partnership with other chiefs he has developed by-laws to protect the lakes enforcing a three-month closed season to allow fish time to breed.
We are also protecting fish breeding areas and restricting the length of fishing nets and restricting the minimum size of mesh so that only larger adult fish can be caught, he said.
USAID/Malawi Fisheries Integration of Society and Habitats Project (FISH) is a five year project expected to end in 2019.
Source: Malawi News Agency MANA