Small fish caught by mosquito net. Photo by Ripple Africa
Aside from all the other factors that threaten cichlid species in Lake Malawi, on major problem is the use of mosquito nets for fishing. These nets were given out in an effort to reduce cases of malaria. Unfortunately, these same nets, with their tight weave, were used for fishing. In deep waters, these nets are used to catch the larger fish that are usually a food source for people in the region. The small openings of the nets meant that young fish, which in the past slipped through larger openings, were now being caught. These mosquito nets were so effective that fish stocks in Lake Malawi have fallen by 90%.
The problem isn't restricted to deep waters. The rocky shores which offered protection for small cichlids are being fished with these mosquito nets. Efforts to outlaw the use of mosquito nets or restrict there use is underway with signs of positive results. For more information on the issue, check out the article on the Deutsche Welle website.