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Plans for a project on Malawi chambo were conceived more than 10 years ago. In 1988, the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme approved a project to assist the Department of Fisheries of the Malawi Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources in chambo fisheries research. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations was designated as the executing agency.

The project has been operational from October 1988–92. It was based partly in Monkey Bay, partly in Mangochi, as the research was to be conducted in the south-east arm of Lake Malawi, the Upper Shire river and in Lake Malombe, which harbour the most productive chambo fishing grounds in Malawi.

In the light of the Government policy to fully exploit the economic potential of the fish resources of Malawi's lakes in order to enhance the nutritional status of the population, a major immediate objective of the project was to carry out research to enable the government by the end of the project to establish a suitable management strategy for the chambo fisheries in the project's working area. However due to the complexity of the fisheries and their multispecies character, it was necessary to also take account of other major stocks involved, although the biological investigations concentrated on the three chambo species found in Malawi.

In order to provide a sound basis for management decision-making activities were undertaken in: fisheries statistics as a result of which the government accepted to change the data-collection system from a boat-based to a more reliable gear-based system; stock assessment of the chambo and other fish resources; chambo biology and taxonomy; socio-economic aspects of the chambo exploiting fisheries and the marketing of fish in the project's area. Detailed results have been laid down in a series of twenty-five Field Documents (see annex 2).

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