1. The Technical Consultation was officially opened by Mr J.B. Matola, Director of Finance and Administration, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs, Malawi. He welcomed all delegates to the Consultation at the Nkopola Lodge on the Lakeshore. He informed delegates that Lake Malawi/Niassa/Nyasa has been of substantial socio-economic, nutrition and food security importance for the riparian States for many generations and it has to be protected to continue providing these attributes for present and future generations. The list of participants is in Appendix B.
2. Mr Matola pointed out that of late, fishery statistics from the lake especially on the Malawian side are showing signs of over exploitation mainly on the important fish stocks particularly Chambo. The main cause of decline in fish stocks is directly associated with over capitalization and illegal fishing. There are also other threats, to the biodiversity of the lake arising from outside the fisheries sector. Prominent among these activities is poor land use which leads to the degradation of the lake.
3. It was recalled that past regional project activities confirmed that the greatest threat to species diversity and sustainable utilization of the lake are habitat degradation, introduction of exotics, pollution and over fishing.
4. The Director of Finance and Administration urged delegates from the riparian States to be bold enough to deliberate on the following:
isolate areas of excessive fishing;
examine the performance and efficiency of major fishing gears;
consider the impact of modified fishing methods;
examine the current method of biological data collection, dissemination of information for decision making in member states;
involve local communities in fisheries management;
the involvement of stakeholders should give consideration to the diseases affecting fishing communities (malaria, cholera, HIV/AIDS); and
review the international legal and institutional arrangements needed for the development and management of the entire Lake.
5. He concluded the opening speech by thanking the FAO Subregional Office for Southern and East Africa and the FAO Representation in Malawi for assisting in organizing this Technical Consultation.
6. The FAO Representative in Malawi, Dr Louise Setshewaelo conveyed the warm greetings of the Director General of FAO, Mr Jacques Diouf, the Assistant Director of the Fisheries Department Mr Ichiro Nomura and the FAO Subregional Representative for Southern and East Africa, Ms Victoria Sekitoleko. She acknowledged efforts already made by the three riparian States in strengthening regional cooperation in the spirit of the Southern African Development Cooperation Treaty signed on 17 August 1992. She commended the riparian States for implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) and the accompanying guidelines.
7. The FAO Representative emphasized the need for the Consultation to come out with good recommendations on the following fisheries aspects:
more reliable fishery data and statistics for management purposes;
means of controlling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing;
public awareness of stakeholders around the lake;
capacity building at various levels;
empowerment of fishers and other stakeholders;
application of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishery and its guidelines in implementing management measures; and
identifying options for alternative income generations for better livelihoods.