In 2012, RIPPLE Africa worked with local community members and district authorities to develop local bylaws to protect a 40km stretch of lakeshore along Lake Malawi in Nkhata Bay District, Malawi, Africa. To support, advocate, and regulate these fish conservation bylaws, RIPPLE Africa has set up local Fish Conservation Committees whose members include fishers and non-fishers. The Committees, together with the District Fisheries Department, manage the local permit system, and monitor and regulate illegal activity in each Committee’s designated area.
There are now 134 active committees in Nkhata Bay district, and 20 protected fish breeding areas (eg. estuaries and lagoons).
In 2016 the project expanded into the Nkhotakota district. Again, fish conservation by-laws were signed there by the authorities in May 2018. The project is therefore now operating along 300km of lakeshore. In Nkhotakota, there are currently 76 fish conservation committees and 12 protected breeding areas. Committees in both districts have been empowered to confiscate illegal gear, including large numbers of dragnets made from mosquito nets. To help monitor the project’s progress, the daily catch and income of fishers from a number of selected landing sites in both districts are being recorded, to find any trends and changes in fish size, catch quantity and income.