Fisheries are of vital importance to Malawi. Catch and effort data on the cichlid
fisheries suggest that present yields are sustainable and that the fisheries can
be well managed. The ornamental fish trade is dependent on external factors for its
survival. Malawi has established a National Park to protect representative populations
of the Malawi fish fauna; this has the status of World Heritage Site. Threats to the
lake environment are: excessive fishery exploitation, introduction of alien fishes
and plants, industrial pollution, and oil exploration with the risk of spills.
Deforestation may affect lake levels and hence shore-based infrastructure and also
affects the character of affluent streams and spawning of river-breeding fishes. Water
abstraction for irrigation and hydroelectric dams may also affect such fishes.
Scientists should avoid using emotional arguments when arguing for conservation of the
unique fish faunas. The long-term monetary value of the lakes as water supplies, fish
producers, tourism attractors, etc. can be stressed. Financial and other assistance
to the riparian countries for fisheries management, treatment of industrial wastes, etc.
should be included in aid programmes.