* Calls for ownership of fisheries initiatives to ensure targeted Lake Malawi aquatic habitats are healthy and well-managed
By Fostina Mkandawire, MANA
Acting chief of party for Restoring Fisheries for Sustainable Livelihoods in Lake Malawi-REFRESH project, Marianna Balampama has reaffirmed her organizations commitment to restore natural fisheries productivity in Lakeshore districts.
Speaking during a closing ceremony for the ‘Pause and Reflect Workshop’ in Salima on Thursday, Balampama commited that they will continue working to ensure that targeted Lake Malawi aquatic habitats are healthy and well-managed.
“We want the fish population to be self-sustaining and that Lake Malawi fisheries are managed sustainably,” she said, adding that they recognise the significance of interactions between fisheries and the ecosystem and the wide range of environmental, economic, social, and cultural factors related to fisheries.
She, therefore, said with funding from USAID through PACT, they will continue to support the director of finance in the Ministry of Forestry & Natural Resources as well as District Council fisheries offices to ensure local ownership of the fisheries department.
“We want to advance a decentralized and participatory ecosystem based fisheries management across all of the lake, giving fisheries dependent communities an equal opportunity to realise the economic potential of a sustainably managed lake,” she said.
In addition, they will continue to support interventions centred on enhancing fisheries regulatory frameworks.
In his remarks, senior deputy director in the Department of Fisheries, Geoffrey Kanyerere, said as species of fish continue to dwindle in Lake Malawi, the government appreciates initiatives from stakeholders that strive to replenish aquatic life.
He said they are engaging stakeholders on a regular basis to map out the best way forward on how they can develop the fisheries sector so that it can generate income for the country.
“It is our hope that through engagements with stakeholders we can together come up with ways of sustaining the sector to its optimum best,” he said.
The Pause and Reflect — a multi-disciplinary workshop involving project staff and partners, the government, academia, community stakeholders and USAID officers — is conducted annually before completion of annual work plans for submission and approval.
The REFRESH project is being implemented in the lakeshore districts of Karonga, Rumphi, Likoma, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Salima, Dedza and Mangochi.