MALAWI – According to the published 2019 Annual Economic Report, earnings of the Malawi fisheries sector in 2018 rose by 11.23% contributed by rising fish volumes and prices.

Fish landings had a beach or landed value of K196.69 billion (US$273.18 million), with a volume of 221 849.08 metric tonnes (MT) compared to the K173.04 billion (US$235.74 million) realised the previous year from the sale of 199 454 MT.

The national average beach price was K928.96 (US$1.28) per kilogramme (kg) of fish in 2018, a rise from K867.95 (US$1.20) per kg the prior year with Oreochromis lidole locally known as Chambo fetching the highest price at K1,557 (US$ 2.14) per kg.

This pushed up per capita fish consumption, reaching 12.63 kg per person per year, from 12.47 kg per person per year in 2017, which is closer to the recommended 13 to 15 kg of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

During the period under review, fish exports generated K226.058 million (US$311,000) from the sale of 49, 780 live fish, which is slightly higher that the K167.172 million (US$230,000) made from the sale of 36, 367 live fish the year before.

Hong Kong was the major importer of Malawi’s ornamental fish K71, 586, 140 (US$98,000) followed by China K50, 663, 536 (US$69,000) and Germany K49, 879, 704 (US$68, 000).

While total fish production has been increasing, over 60 per cent constitutes Usipa (Engraulicypris Sardella) and other small fish species reports mwnation.

Habitat degradation, non-compliance to fishing regulations and limited alternative sources of income for lakeshore fishing communities threatens the development of the sector.

This had led the government, to put in place several measures including introduction of a vessel monitoring system for trawlers on Lake Malawi, reviewing fishing regulations, enhancing fish quality, promoting adoption of better fish processing facilities like solar rent driers, and promoting fish farming.

In addition to that, the government has undertaken the removal of customs duty on equipment and items that focus on promotion of aquaculture.

The fisheries sector composed of the capture fisheries, aquaculture and aquarium trade sub-sectors, currently employs 63, 023 people and contributes over 70% of the dietary animal protein intake of Malawians and 40 percent of the total protein supply.