Authorities in Malawi have burnt over 3,000 mosquito nets which were being used to cover fishing traps amid continued illegal use of bed nets for fishing in Lake Chilwa.
On the contrary, the nets are regarded as a significant and cheaper method in the fight against malaria –Image sourced at e360.yale.edu
The three-day operation undertaken in Zomba district by the fisheries department in partnership with Climate Change Adaptation Project under United Development Program saw the confiscation of 3,800 fishing traps covered with mosquito nets after noticing that there was an increase in use of illegal fishing hardware.
On the contrary, the nets are regarded as a significant and cheaper method in the fight against malaria, a disease that kills a large number of pregnant mothers and children in Malawi and Africa every year.
The District Fisheries Extension Officer said following the destruction, the department expects that there will be a reduction in the use of the unsparing mesh with holes smaller than mosquitoes and traps more aquatic life than the required fishing net.
Yamikani Balaka explained, ”Bed nets are very harmful fishing gears because have long-term effects on the life of aquatic species as they don’t allow multiplication and grow of other species, and the future generation will not appreciate the benefits of the current generation as these nets sweeps everything bottom of the lake including juveniles (Small fish) among other lives”.
He said most of the fishermen in floating homes which are also highly prone areas to malaria outbreak, opt for mosquito nets because they are cheap ad have small mesh and holes which enable them to catch more fish at a fast rate.
Balaka however urged fishermen to jointly work with the department in conserving fish by restraining from harmful fishing practices and cooperate and attend awareness campaigns.
The District Malaria Coordinator of Zomba District Health Office expressed worry over the continued use of mosquito nets for fishing saying governments spends a lot of resources in procuring the nets with an intention of protecting people from mosquito bites which causes the fast killing diseases malaria.
Saidi Ndawu said “such practices leads to wastage of government resources as the main money used towards the fight against malaria campaign would be in vain as this would be putting a number of people at stake and increase cases of Malaria outbreak in the country.”
He quickly figured out that as a health office it is doing everything possible to continue sensitizing communities to the effective use of bed nets urging other stakeholders to fall in and help in the fight against Malaria.