Usipa Engraulicypris sardella is the most abundant small pelagic species in Lake Malawi. It plays an important part in the lake communities’ economy and food security. However, much remains unknown on their stock status and bioeconomic importance. This study is carried out to estimate the maximum economic yield and maximum sustainable yield for Usipa fishery in the South-east arm of Lake Malawi. Structured quantitative questionnaire was used to collect information from 139 informants on the price of usipa landings and cost of fishing effort. Catch and effort data for Usipa were used in a biomass dynamic model (ASPIC) to estimate key parameters (r, q and k). A bioeconomic model was further developed based on the Gordon- Schaefer model using cost and revenues of the Usipa fisheries to derive the Maximun Sustainable Yield (MSY) and the Maximum Economic Yield (MEY). Model estimates of MSY and MEY were 9,228.8 and 8,227.1 tonnes, respectively. The corresponding fishing effort was estimated to be 40,000 net-hauls and 30,000 net-hauls at MSY and MEY, respectively. Revenues at MSY were estimated at MWK42.280 billion, while at MEY the revenues were MWK39.309 billion. The analysis shows that the current effort of 65,232 net-hauls has a yield of 6,000 tonnes, indicating that the Usipa fishery is currently overexploited over the optimum bio-economic level and even beyond the open access yield. We recommend reducing the fishing effort by 54% to realize the best economic benefits (Production at MEY) and end overfishing to protect the fishery from biological and economic collapses.
Key words: Usipa, bioeconomic, chilimira, catch per unit effort, maximum economic yield, South east arm.
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