Community Response: Decline of the Chambo in Lake Malawi’s Southeast Arm

  • Mafaniso HaraEmail author


In Malawi, the multi-gear, multi-species small-scale fishing sector lands more than 95% of the catch and employs over 95% of those participating in fishing, greatly contributing towards poverty alleviation and protein food security for the lakeshore communities and Malawians at large. Over the last two decades, catches of the chambo (Oreochromis spp.), the most valuable species in the Southeast Arm of Lake Malawi, have declined. This is a source of concern for the sustainability of the fishery as a whole, and the impact this could have on the dependent fishing communities, given that the devastated Lake Malombe fishery followed a similar trajectory. Fishers are ambivalent as to whether decline of the chambo should be a source of concern, especially if accepting this view would mean agreeing to new regulations aimed at reducing fishing effort. This study analyzes the strategies being used by fishers in response to the changing fishery dynamics as a result of the decline of the chambo. The responses include: investment in cheaper fishing gears; invention of new fishing techniques; introduction of new gear types; geographic and occupational mobility; business and livelihoods diversification; changes in relation to production within fishing units; and introduction of cage culture. Managers and development practitioners need to understand the changes taking place in the fishery in order to formulate appropriate and acceptable solutions, if the fishery is to continue to provide social-economic benefits for the fishing ­communities and Malawi.


Fishing Community Fishing Effort Fishing Gear Crew Member Maximum Sustainable Yield 
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Research for this chapter was made possible through a research grant from the Norwegian Research Council for the PovFish project under the coordination, leadership, and partnership of Professors Svein Jentoft and Arne Eide at MaReMa, Norwegian College of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø. I am also greatly indebted to all the fisher folk, Malawi Department of Fisheries staff, and many others for granting me interviews and use of secondary data and information. Without the generosity of these people and organizations, this chapter would not have come to fruition.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for PovertyLand and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)BellvilleSouth Africa

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