Experts in the fisheries sector have said the annual fish stocks in Lake Malombe in Mangochi has dwindled from 20,000 metric tonnes to 4,000 metric tonnes over the past 25 years representing an 80 per cent decline.
Environmental Science, Fisheries and Aquaculture Specialist, Orton Msiska, made the revelation on Monday during the presentation of findings of a study conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and other partners to the District Environmental Sub – Committee (DESC) in the catchment area of Lake Malombe.
Msiska said the period under study was from 1981 – 1991 where on average 20,000 tonnes of fish were caught annually, describing the drop to current 4,000 metric tonnes as a serious drop and an alarm requiring immediate intervention.
“There are so many factors contributing to the dwindling stocks of fish in the lake and key among such factors include high sedimentation and low water levels,” observed Msiska.
“Lake Malombe is drying up and with its history of having dried up completely from 1915 to 1937, if we do not do anything about it, the lake could dry up again,” he warned.
Msiska said there were a lot of changes taking place in the catchment area of Lake Malombe in terms of sedimentation, appealing to partners involved with issues of environment to find lasting solutions to the problem.
Mangochi District Director of Planning and Development (DPD), Ernest Kaphuka, concurred with Msiska on the seriousness of the problem, stressing need for the council and its partners to work closely in finding solutions to the problem before it got out of hand.
Kaphuka said findings of the study would guide partners who were already working in the catchment area of Lake Malombe, expressing hope that the damage that the lake had suffered would be restored soon.
Based on Msiska’s presentation, Lake Malombe’s catchment area is 133,400 hectares while the lake’s length and width measure 30 kilometres and 15 kilometres respectively