Using science to improve fishing
The Fisheries Integration of Society and Habitats project, or FISH, is a 5-year, USAID-funded project focused on biodiversity conversation and climate change adaptation in four major lake bodies in Malawi. One of the main objectives of the project is to increase scientific literature and the use of science for decision-making around sustainable fisheries. University of Rhode Island Coastal Resource Center, a FISH consortium partner, has been leading important research for the project.
Recently published and completed is a technical brief describing the importance and changing trends of deep pool refugia along the rivers that feed Lake Chilwa, which is prone to extreme drying and one of the most vulnerable water bodies in Malawi to climate change. These deep pools in the rivers along the path to Lake Chilwa serve important ecological functions for adult fish during dry periods. The brief uses primary and secondary data to inform the government of Malawi, scientists, conservationists and implementers working on water flow, fisheries and agriculture/irrigation schemes on the current state and need for protecting these deep pool refugia.
It is through evidence-based research, including consultation with communities, that the local and national government of Malawi will be able to address the impact that climate change has on communities. In general, the pools showed a stressful environment for aquatic life and degradation due to sedimentation. The report and associated executive brief encourage targeted education and awareness campaigns to improve knowledge about the location and value of deep pools.