Compliance and Enforcement of the Fisheries Regulations on Lake Malawi in Nkhatabay District
Ghambi C* and Mzengereza K
Department of Fisheries Science, Mzuzu University, Malawi
Submission: September 18, 2016; Published: October 13, 2016
*Corresponding author: Ghambi C, Mzuzu University, Department of Fisheries Science, Private Bag 201, Mzuzu, Malawi.
How to cite this article: Ghambi C, Mzengereza K . Compliance and Enforcement of the Fisheries Regulations on Lake Malawi in Nkhatabay District. Ocean & fish Open Access J. 2016; 1(2): 555557. DOI: 10.19080/OFOAJ.2016.01.555557
Both enforcement and compliance with fisheries regulation affect the sustainable exploitation and conservation of the fisheries resources in Lake Malawi .The study analyzed the factors that affect compliance with fisheries regulations and also the challenges that affect success of government’s enforcement of fisheries regulations. The study was conducted in Nkhata Bay district, northern Malawi. Qualitative data was collected using questionnaires from 78 fishery resource users selected using simple random and purposive methods. Factors for both challenges faced by government’s enforcement and compliance by resource users with fisheries regulations were analyzed in SPSS (version 20) using regression models at 95% confidence level. The results show that self-interest and awareness of regulations (P0.05) contribute to non-compliance of fisheries regulations by resource users while sufficiency of funds, shortage of personnel and limited support by stakeholders (P0.05) affect the success of government’s enforcement of the regulations. Interventions are, therefore, required to improve enforcement by training fisheries protection officers as outlined in the Malawi Fisheries act 1997 and reduce the level of noncompliance by means of thorough sensitization of fisheries regulations to the user communities.
Keywords:Closed Seasons; Resource Users; Lake Malawi
The management of fisheries in Malawi conforms to the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy whose primary objective is, “to enhance the quality of life for fishing communities by increasing harvests within safe, sustainable yields,” [1-3]. To ensure that there is sustainable management of fisheries resources, the department of fisheries has put in place laws and regulations which are, as outlined in the Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, Closed seasons or areas; Gear limitations; Fish size limits; and Licensing of fish gears. These are common fisheries management measures applied to various water bodies in Malawi including Lake Malawi and were formulated either in centralized management or participatory management [3-4].
There are three types of fisheries governance systems that are used to manage fisheries resources in Malawi. These systems are the traditional, government-centered and co-management [5,6]. The traditional system relies on traditional chieftaincy as guiders of fisheries resources. Furthermore, in this system, there is almost total independence from any form of government mediations as the system purely follows taboos and tenurial rights . On the other hand, control of the fisheries resources
fall in the hands of the government, a system referred to as government-centered system. The system is based on a wide range of scientifically guided regulations and is the predominant system in Malawi. However, an intermediate governance system exist where there is a partnership and sharing of power and responsibility between the government and the resource users to control the fisheries resources. This system is referred to as co-management.
In co-management system, committees such as the Beach Village Committees (BVCs) are created and work together with the government to counteract on noncompliance with the fisheries regulations by resource users to avoid over-exploitation and other related problems. Co-management was given regal recognition in form of a new Fisheries Conservation and Management Act and the policy was revised to incorporate co-management approaches , the Fisheries Act was developed mainly to achieve biologically sustainable exploitation of Chambo (Oreochromis spp) stock through fisheries regulations . Enforcement units have partnerships with competent courts where violators of fisheries regulations are prosecuted and sentenced. The police are also involved in the investigation andapprehension of non-complaint fisher folks. Both enforcementby the government and compliance by resource users playimportant roles in safeguarding the stock of fishes.
The future sustainability and benefits from fisherieshave been negatively affected by illegal fishing activities andnoncompliance of fisheries regulations which has become aglobal problem thereby presenting acute threat to regenerationof fish stocks [8-10]. Despite the formulation of the fisheriesmanagement and conservation act 1997 and fisheriesconservation and management, fishing regulations 2000, thereis still a decrease in the fish catches. Over the years, there hasbeen over-exploitation of fish stocks and subsequent collapse ofChambo fishery and other fish species. Increased population offishermen as well as consumers has been a major cause of suchoccurrence.
Furthermore, fisheries policy, including technical measuresand regulations has largely failed to prevent over-exploitationand the collapse of some important fish species, and thishas been attributed to the lack of compliance with fisheriesregulations by resource users, glitches in management andtop-down control of fisheries by the government . Likewise,efforts to manage, conserve, and enhance ecosystem productivityand production when at same time addressing the needs suchas meeting the economic and social well-being of the growingpopulation naturally involves challenges of law enforcement. The available literature and research is not clear onwhether there has been success in enforcement of the FisheriesAct and if the fishing communities comply to the Fisheries Actin Malawi. Therefore the present study analyzed the capacityof the government to conserve the fisheries resource throughregulations and if enforcement and compliance with thoseregulations by resource users in Nkhatabay district is effective.
A cross-sectional study method as described by Creswell was used with the aim of collecting different views aboutcompliance on the fisheries regulation. Qualitative data wascollected using questionnaires, interviews. Primary data wascollected from fisheries law enforcement personnel, the DistrictFisheries Officer, fishermen and chairpersons in the BeachVillage Committees (BVCs). Secondary data was gathered fromNkhatabay district Fisheries Office which included catch andeffort data. The study involved purposive sampling techniquewhere key informants were selected based on expertise .
The sample size comprised of 78 respondents of which 39 werefishers and 39 were non fishers.
Qualitative data was collected using questionnaires,interview guides, and observational check list. On the other hand,secondary data was obtained through a review of documents oncatches of fish reports on enforcement of fisheries regulationsand statistics on gear owners in Nkhatabay district.
Both demographic characteristics of the resource users, levelof sensitivity of respondents towards fisheries regulations andalso level of enforcement and compliance in the district. Logisticregression was performed in SPSS version 20.0 to use examinethe factors that affect resource user’s compliance with fisheriesregulations and challenges of enforcement by the government.Logit (Y2 )=Ln (Pi/(1-Pi ))= β0+β1 X1 〖+ β2 X2+ β3 X3++ β8 X8.......Equation
Where Y2 is compliance or noncompliance of fisheriesregulations (dependent variable); Ln is Natural logarithm; Pi isprobability of compliance with fisheries regulations; β0 is theintercept andβ1,β2,…β9 are regression coefficients of X1, X2,…X8 respectively. In this equation X1 is age, X2 is gender, X3 iseducation Status, X4 is self-interest, X5 is ethics, X6 is awarenessof regulations, X7 is Severity of sanctions and X8 is poverty.
Where Y1 is success or failure of enforcement of fisheriesregulations (dependent variable); Ln is Natural logarithm; Pi isprobability of enforcement of fisheries regulations; β_0 is theintercept andβ1,β2,…β9 are regression coefficients of X1, X2,…X9 respectively. In this equation X1 is Age, X2 is open access, X3is education status, X4 is sufficiency of funds, X5 is adequacy ofpersonnel, X6 is resistance by resources users, X7 is corruptionby law enforcers, X8 is support by stakeholders
92% of the respondents had knowledge about the existenceof fisheries regulations and the remaining 8% of the respondentslacked such knowledge. 90 % of the resource users have beensensitized and only 10 % are not yet sensitized about thefisheries regulations in Nkhatabay district. There are severalchannels through which the knowledge of fisheries regulationis spread to the user communities. Some of these are director offisheries through media, the DoF through meetings, members ofthe FCCs and BVCs and Law enforcement officers. Below is graphshowing percentage of sensitization delivered by each channelto the user community in Nkhatabay district. About 10% ofsensitization of the regulations has been delivered through the media by The Directorate of Fisheries, 77% by the DoF ofNkhatabay District, 18% by the Law enforcement unit and 28%by members of FCCs or BVCs.
Results of the present study (Table 1) show that self-interest(X4) and awareness of fisheries regulations (X6) were significant(0.027 and 0.001 respectively) factors that affect compliancewith fisheries regulations by resource users in Nkhatabay.Factors that were found not to be significant are not included inthe final equation of the model such that the model contains onlysignificant variables as shown below
Awareness of fisheries regulations has a positive logisticcoefficient while self-interest has a negative logistic coefficient.Results (Table 2) of the present study show that insufficient funds(X3), shortage of personnel (X4) and support by stakeholders (X7)were significant challenges that the government faces duringenforcement of fisheries regulations in Nkhatabay. Factorswhich were found not to be significant are not included in thefinal equation of the model such that the model contains onlysignificant variables as shown below:
According to FAO , “The effective management of naturalresources requires engagement of the resource users andattendant communities through sensitization as a starting pointto achieve successful enforcement operation”. People’s lack ofknowledge of their responsibilities in bringing about a favourableenvironment for a sustainable fishery may also weaken theireffective participation in the management of natural resourcesand fisheries in particular . Therefore, empowering thecommunities through sensitization on the fisheries regulationsis the first step toward effective management and consequentlysustainable utilization of fisheries resources.
Results (Figure 1) of the present study show that themajority (92%) of resource users are aware of the existenceof fisheries regulations. Therefore, it can be speculated thatthe resource users in the area comply with the fisheriesmanagement regulations. In addition, the current study (Figure2) found that 90% of the resource users have been sensitizedabout the fisheries regulations with Nkhatabay DistrictFisheries Office taking a large part (77%). Thus, the majority of responsibilities pertaining to the fishery including sensitizationof the regulations are centralized to the government of Malawithrough the district fisheries office. The level of participation insensitization of fisheries by Beach Villages Committees (BVCs) isquite low (28%).
Evidence exists that lack of knowledge about their dutiesand responsibilities as outlined in the fisheries act, and themotivation to carry out the activities prevents the BVCs fromperforming their key role in creating awareness on fisheriesregulations to the fishing communities. The enforcementpersonnel as a channel of sensitization have less influence andthis has been blamed on the poor interface between the enforcersand resources users because of the way resource users perceivelaw enforcement personnel. Resource users deem the enforcersare there to confiscate fishing gears and apprehend violators butnot disseminate information.
Results (Table 1) of the logistic regression show that selfinterest(P = 0.027) affect fisher folks compliance with fisheriesregulation on Lake Malawi waters in Nkhatabay district. Thefindings are in line with Kuperan , who reported that selfinterestis an important determinant of compliance with fisheriesregulations. Self-interest has a huge impact on compliancesince it entails freedom of entry to the lake by the populationto exploit the resource. Apparently, Nkhatabay district has 1530gear owners whereas in 2015 it was reported that there wereabout 1,324 representing a 13% increase. Therefore, with suchfishing pressure, gear owners have resorted to violating fisheriesregulations with the justification that they make more profitthan others who use appropriate mesh sizes and gear length.
This argues well with the theory of compliance which statesthat the willingness to comply basing on moral obligation iscentered on the perceived legitimacy of the authorities chargedwith implementation of the regulations . To substantiatethe foregoing theory, the study present study reports thatSanga stratum had a greater number of gear owners (90%)who attest that moral obligation affects compliance. This isalso in corroboration with, most gear owners who perceivethe department of fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture as just atax collecting entity and that Sanga shows more resistanceto enforcement activities. Therefore, this affirms that themoral obligation is indeed intertwined with the legitimacy ofregulatory authorities.
Awareness of regulations (P = 0.001) (Table 1) is anotherfactor that positively influences compliance of fishing regulationsby resource users in Nkhatabay district. The result, however,contradicts the findings (Figure 3) on implementation offisheries regulations which showed that the majority of resourceusers have knowledge of the existence of fisheries regulationsand they had previously been sensitised about compliance withfisheries regulations. This can be attributed to poor sensitizationof fisheries regulations such that the majority of fishermenundermine its purpose with regard to conservation of thefisheries resources. In addition, enforcers of fisheries regulationhave thrown much emphasized on licensing of the fishing gearoverlooking other equally important fisheries regulations. Forinstance, the present study has observed that most gears exceedthe maximum head length of the fishing gear and thereforeaffirming the use of fishing illegal gears in NkhataBay waters of Lake Malawi.
Enforcement is one of the fundamental concepts towardssustainable exploitation and conservation of the fishery resources.The current study shows that there are several challengesnegatively affecting the success of enforcement of fisheriesregulations in Nkhatabay. The most significant challenges areinsufficient funding, shortage of personnel to enforce fisheriesregulation and limited support by stakeholders. Results (Table2) of the present study show that insufficient funding (P= 0.002)and odds ratio (5.726) influences enforcement of fisheriesregulations. The result is in tandem with Jamu et al. , whohighlighted that lack of financial resources prevents managersfrom efficient inspection. Enforcement of fisheries regulations inNkhatabay district is exclusively funded by the government ofMalawi through the directorate of fisheries.
However, the insufficient monetary resources forenforcement activities lead to minimal enforcement activitiesundertaken per year in Nkhatabay. For instance, patrols on thelake are conducted once or twice per year and this may havealso contributed to over-exploitation of fish stocks through theuse of illegal fishing methods and gears. A higher probability ofdetection from enforcement activities discourages people fromcommitting illegal activities [18,19]. Therefore, with insufficientfunds and less activities to conduct, the probability of detectingviolators is narrowed, a development that is posing a challengeto effective enforcement.
Shortage of personnel (P= 0.049) is one of the significantchallenges that the government face in enforcement ofregulations. Inadequate personnel lead to low probability ofdetection which consequently results in ineffective enforcementof regulation [20-22]. In Nkhatabay district, the number ofstaff is limited to length of the shoreline (approximately 200km) and a large number of fishing vessels (2,552) operatingvarious types of fishing gears. This may be attributed to lackof enough training institutions that produce individuals whoare equipped with necessary skills that are appropriate for thetasks of enforcements. Limited support from stakeholders (P =0.046) also affects the government’s success with enforcementof fisheries regulations. One attribute constituting this challengemay be lack of spirit and patriotism in the workers to seekexternal sources of financial aid to support their activitiesincluding enforcement.
Self-interest and awareness of regulations are major factorsthat affect compliance of fisheries regulations by all players in Nkhatabay district. Self-interest negatively affects compliancewith fisheries regulation. On the other hand, awarenesscampaigns on fisheries regulation enable the fishery users tobe kept abreast with relevant information and they understandthe rationale for complying with the fisheries regulations. Thepresent study has also found that sufficiency of funds enhancesenforcement of fisheries regulations since important activitiesare carried out such as frequent patrol son Lake Malawiwaters aimed at confiscating illegal gears or catching illegalfishing. However, shortage of personnel and limited support bystakeholders negatively impact on the success of government’seffort to institute enforcement activities.
There is need for the resource users to be thoroughlysensitized on fisheries regulations, more emphasis must beplaced on gear limits, closed seasons acceptable fish sizes, andthe adverse environmental effects that are aftermaths of illegalfishing. The government must strengthen enforcement bybuilding capacities of all fisheries protection officers throughtraining in order to cover for shortage of personnel that thedepartment of fisheries face and also pump in more moneyto improve the regularity and frequency of patrols and otherenforcement activities. The district fisheries office shoulddevelop projects which will solicit funding from external sourcesapart from the government which are NGOs in order to improveenforcement activities.