ZOMBA: The Zomba district council Friday approved bylaws on participatory fisheries management that are expected to improve the conservation and management fish in Lake Chilwa.
The council made the approval during a quarterly full council meeting held at its chambers.
Speaking soon after the passing of the bylaws, Zomba District Fisheries Officer Lapken Chikoko said these local guidelines would empower communities to look after the lake effectively.
These bylaws intend to instill the spirit of community ownership of fisheries resources for their effective management and conservation, Chikoko said.
He added that enforcement of the by-laws would improve the relationship between the department of fisheries and communities in management of the lake.
Chikoko took an opportunity to announce the annual closure of Lake Chilwa for fishing until next year.
We have suspended fishing in the lake from March this year to February 2019. We want to give chance to the fish to breed as one way of improving fish production from the lake, he said.
Making his presentation on the new bylaws, chairperson for Zomba district council agriculture service committee, councilor Imedi Issa said extensive consultations were made during formulation of the by-laws.
All the concerned parties such as communities, police and the judiciary were involved in the process. We wanted to avoid challenges that may arise during enforcement of the laws, Issa said.
Key to these bylaws is the ban on the use of Mkacha, a fishing net with tiny mesh and sweeps all sizes of fish including fingerlings. Punishment for the use of such nets include confiscation of the fishing gear, a fine of K40, 000 or in default handed over to court for further legal redress.
FISH project with funding from the United States Agency for International Development through PACT Malawi and Christian Aid facilitated the formulation of bylaws in Zomba, Machinga and Phalombe, the three districts surrounding Lake Chilwa.
Source: Malawi News Agency MANA