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Management of small-scale -African fisheries: The Case of Elephant Marsh in Malawi

How does the management of Elephant Marsh Fishery in Malawi relate to wider contexts of policies, theories and regions? And how can the current management system be adapted to achieve long-term sustainability of the fishery?

2011 - 2017
Louwes Fund Louwes Fund
Malawi Scholarship Program (MSP)


Short abstract

The management of small-scale fisheries (SSF) has received considerable attention in recent years. Being a form of resource extraction, small-scale capture fisheries usually do not continuously require high inputs after making the initial investment in the acquisition of the extraction equipment.  Informally put, once you have a boat and fishing gear, you tend to go on fishing, hence subject to the risk of Hardin’s ‘tragedy of the commons’  that leads to resource exhaustion. This PhD study was aimed at designing a novel management system for the Elephant Marsh Fishery in Malawi.

Scientific relevance

This  study focuses on designing a management system for the Elephant Marsh Fishery in Malawi which can sustain increased small-scale fish production amid increasing exploitation pressures.

Material & Methods

Action in Context (AiC) as devised by de Groot (1992) as well as crisp set qualitative comparative analysis are the main methods used in this research.

Results,  Conclusions & Follow -up

The  main finding of this study is that designing a resilient management institution for the Elephant Marsh Fishery in Malawi requires the following three pillars: (i) a low-cost, weak and, build for growth and adaptation; (ii) a purely locally based ‘nested enterprise’ and, (iii) an internally amorphous.  On the other hand, when one ones realizes that apart from good fish catches, the people at the Elephant marsh also have other needs (values, goals etc. such as good schools, good health facilities, enough food) the idea of establishing an institution to cater for other sectors (agriculture, livestock grazing, energy, and tourism) becomes exciting. The important question then would be whether a multi-sector, marsh-wide ‘Authority’ for the Elephant Marsh would be successful. In a nutshell, the idea of establishing a multi-sector, marsh-wide ‘Authority’ for the Elephant Marsh requires a new and deeper understanding of the emergent socio-casual linkages and invites us to more research.

Why Leiden University?

Leiden University is top class. Its rich expertise and facilities in my field of study mad e it an obvious choice. There is so much academic diversity which makes studying both fun and complete. The rich history behind the university is something that makes me proud to be associated with this great institution.

Kosamu I.B.M, , Groot W.T. de & Kambewa P.S. (2016), Actor-Based Design of a Management System for the Elephant Marsh Fishery in Malawi, Society and Natural Resources .

Kosamu, I. B.M. (2015). Conditions for sustainability of small-scale fisheries in developing countries. Fisheries Research, 161: 365-373.

Kosamu, I.B.M. (2014) Conditions for sustainability of the Elephant Marsh Fishery in Malawi. Sustainability 6 (7): 4010-4027.

Kosamu I.B.M. (2013), National level organisational responses to climate change adaptation: a case study of Malawi, Climate and Development 5(1): 93-98.

Kosamu, I.B.M., de Groot, W.T., Kambewa, P.S., and de Snoo, G.R. (2012). Institutions and Ecosystem-Based Development Potentials of the Elephant Marsh, Malawi. Sustainability, 4, 3326-3345.

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