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Malawi Trying to Find Ways to Contain Overfishing in Its Largest Body of Water, Lake Malawi

But many of them return home empty handed because of the increasing scarcity of fish in the lake

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Malawi, Overfishing, Water
A crowd of fish traders gather each afternoon and evening at a beach in the Makawa area, waiting for the haul from fishermen. Pixabay

Malawi is trying to find ways to contain overfishing in its largest body of water, Lake Malawi. The third largest lake in Africa has long been the economic hub for thousands of fishing communities along the lakefront areas. However, locals say unsustainable fishing practices and climate change have led to dwindling catches, forcing some fishermen to look for alternatives.

A crowd of fish traders gather each afternoon and evening at a beach in the Makawa area, waiting for the haul from fishermen.

But many of them return home empty handed because of the increasing scarcity of fish in the lake.

Michael Makwinja is one of the fishermen.

Malawi, Overfishing, Water
Malawi is trying to find ways to contain overfishing in its largest body of water, Lake Malawi. Pixabay

He says “For example today, those of us who went into the lake for fishing, have made huge loses. We have just come with fish which can fill two five-liter pails, which was only sale at about MK 2,000 (about $2) each. This is huge loss to us,” Makwinja said.

Some fishermen say the fish have been depleted because of climate change.  Others point to the increase in fishing vessels on the lake, resulting in stiff competition for the catch.

The scarcity has forced the fishermen to double the price sold to the traders like Lucia Amidu.

She says “Whenever they catch low fish, they sale at MK 70,000 (nearly $100) per crate, but if we bargain it give at MK 65,000 (about $90). To traders, this makes us make some losses, making us fail to feed our families,” Amidu said.

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The dwindling catch has also forced seasoned fish traders out of business, with many of them switching to other alternatives. Like Joseph Maida, who’s a livestock farmer now.

He says “It’s like I am killing two birds with one stone now. I use the dung for making composite manure. When I have run out cash I kill one goat and sell the meat,” Maida said.

Meanwhile, the government is trying to sensitize communities on regulations designed to reduce overfishing.

These include a ban on some fishing nets and a two-month annual ban on fishing in the lake, from November 1 to December 31.

Malawi, Overfishing, Water
The third largest lake in Africa has long been the economic hub for thousands of fishing communities. Pixabay

Neverson Msusa is the district fisheries officer.

“We have this period which we call closed season’ where some fishing gears and fishing methods are prohibited. This is actually time when fish do breed.  So it’s like we are trying to give some time to fish to freely breed and also grow” Msusa said.

Lakeside communities have formed committees to help reinforce the regulation.

In some areas, the villagers have set up by-laws which have instant penalties to those violating the regulations.

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Noah Mwenyeheri is the headman for Maudzu Village.

He says “One of the penalties is we burn fishing nets of those who violate the by-laws. We do this to protect our environment because it’s our children who will suffer in future should we allow bad fishing practices to continue,” Mwenyeheri said.

In addition, the communities are lobbying the government to extend the annual two-month ban on fishing to five months, in hopes the fish population will grow. (VOA)

Next Story

Mars Losing Water Faster Than Expectations of The Scientists

The ExoMars rover will travel across the Martian surface to search for signs of life

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Mars
Mars today is cold and dry – a desert world -- but dry river valleys and lakebeds suggest that water covered much of the Red Planet billions of years ago. Previous research has also found that Martian water mostly escaped into space. Pixabay

Mars may have been a place brimming with water in the form of seas, lakes and rivers once but all of that evaporated into space as researchers now report that the Red Planet is losing water faster than expected.

Mars today is cold and dry – a desert world — but dry river valleys and lakebeds suggest that water covered much of the Red Planet billions of years ago. Previous research has also found that Martian water mostly escaped into space.

The gradual disappearance of the water occurs when sunlight and chemistry turn water molecules into the hydrogen and oxygen atoms that they are made up of. When they are broken down, Mars’s weak gravity is unable to keep hold of them and they disappear off into space, according to the study, published in the journal Science.

In the new study, an international research team, led partly by Franck Montmessin from French National Centre for Scientific Research in France, revealed that water vapour is accumulating in large quantities and unexpected proportions at an altitude of over 80 km in the Martian atmosphere.

The development was spotted using the Trace Gas Orbiter probe that was sent to the Red planet on board the ExoMars (Exploration of Mars) mission, run by the European Space Agency (ESA) and its Russian counterpart Roscosmos.

Measurements showed that large atmospheric pockets are even in a state of supersaturation, with the atmosphere containing 10 to 100 times more water vapour than its temperature should theoretically allow.

“With the observed supersaturation rates, the capacity of water to escape would greatly increase during certain seasons,” the authors wrote. The researchers point out that seasonal changes were the key factors behind how water vapour was distributed in the Martian atmosphere.

Mars
Mars may have been a place brimming with water in the form of seas, lakes and rivers once but all of that evaporated into space as researchers now report that the Red Planet is losing water faster than expected. Pixabay

The 2020 mission of the ExoMars programme will deliver a European rover and a Russian surface platform to the surface of Mars. A Proton rocket will be used to launch the mission, which will arrive to Mars after a nine-month journey.

The ExoMars rover will travel across the Martian surface to search for signs of life.

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It will collect samples with a drill and analyse them with next-generation instruments. ExoMars will be the first mission to combine the capability to move across the surface and to study Mars at depth. (IANS)