1 Oct, 2018

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Hon. Mwanamvekha speaking at the conference
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha, has said Malawi will benefit a lot from the Pan African Fish and Fisheries association (PAFFA) sixth international conference as Malawi’s dwindling fish resources have led to a decline in fish consumption.

He was speaking when he opened the five-day global conference at Sun and Sand Holiday Resort in Mangochi on Monday, 24th September 2018.

“Per capita fish consumption has declined from 14 kilogrammes to seven per person. This is primarily because of over fishing which has depleted the stock. I wish the conference, with its global calibre, will help us come up with solutions to the problems we face,” said Mwanamvekha.

In his remarks, German Embassy deputy head of development and cooperation Dagmar Krenz said holding the conference by the shores of Lake Malawi is not just about its beauty, but because it represents major challenges in fish and food security African countries face.

He said: “Lake Malawi is one sad example of an immense problem. When you go to the local markets, you see the size of the fish sold getting smaller. As a reaction to over-fishing, fishers adapt the mesh sizes of their fishing nets, thereby harvesting premature fish.”

Krenz said as the country’s fish resources dwindle, nutrition levels are also going down, leaving one third of under-five children stunted.

Speaking in an interview after the official opening of the PAFFA conference, Director of Africa Centre of Excellence Aquaculture and Fisheries (ACE-Aquafish) Professor Emmanuel Kaunda, said the information that is generated from this gathering will be synthesized into a booklet and into some journals with policy messages so that whatever has been generated is presented and translated for the local communities.

"We have a lot of international scientists of which some of them have worked on research projects in Lake Malawi for over 30 years. The theories that have been generated from Lake Malawi have actually shaped the whole fisheries research in the world because of the diversity of the species that we have. We expect that that information will be disseminated to the locals and internationals and in so doing, it is informing policy processes." He said.

According to Professor Kaunda who was also chairman of the local organising committees of the PAFFA 6 conference, it is important that the research findings are published to help government formulate relevant policies.

During the opening, Mwanamvekha also launched three documents produced with support from the German and United States of America governments, namely National Fisheries Aquaculture Research Agenda, National Fisheries Communications Strategy and Fish Value Chain Project Baseline Report.

The conference, whose theme was African Fish and Fisheries: Diversity, Conservation and Sustainable Management, brought together about 300 delegates.