Selecting indicators to assess the fisheries of Lake Malawi and Lake Malombe: Knowledge base and evaluative capacity

P.A.M. van Zwieten, M. Banda, J. Kolding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The provision of management information on the fisheries of Lakes Malawi and Malombe has been characterised by top–down controlled single species steady-state assessment techniques originating from single gear industrial fisheries but applied to an open access highly diverse and adaptive small-scale multispecies and multi-gear fishery. The result has largely been an unhappy marriage with uncertainties blamed more on the data than the process, although the data collection generally is detailed and comprehensive on catch and effort parameters. An extensive literature review of primary and grey literature on ecosystem drivers, exploitation pressures, and fish population and community states shows that Malawi has the necessary knowledge base for expanding their assessment into multi-causal and exploratory indicator-based methods that can assist in better understanding and more disciplined use of existing data and monitoring systems. Selection and ranking of a suite of indicators focusing on the major fisheries in the Southeast arm of Lake Malawi and Lake Malombe were done by a group of Malawian fisheries researchers and management advisers, thereby testing a framework of scoring criteria assessing an indicator's acceptability, observability, and relatedness to management. Indicators that are close to raw observational data and that require limited permutations and few assumptions appear to be preferable in the Malawian context. CPUE-based assessments can improve the utility of data and information in communicating developments and processes and evaluate fisheries management policies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-44
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • african great-lakes
  • cichlid fishes
  • reference points
  • east-africa
  • management
  • perspective
  • tanganyika
  • diversity
  • history
  • nyasa

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