The lack of better performing native fish species for aquaculture led the government of Malawi to import the exotic common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) from Israel in 1976. Growth trials at Domasi and Kasinthula Experimental Stations had shown that common carp grew faster and to a larger size than the indigenous fish species. The government decided to distribute the fish to farmers for grow-out. Barely five years into common carp distribution to farmers, the government reversed its policy and banned the use of the species in aquaculture. The government not only became unpopular but also lost the confidence of the farmers who had begun to see positive impacts of common carp to their livelihoods. The farmers are as unconvinced today as they were before with the reasons behind the banning of common carp. This paper explores the background to common carp farming in Malawi, why the fish was later banned, and the impacts of the fish’s ban on the status of Malawi’s aquaculture. The paper further highlights the farmers’ call for a return of common carp to Malawi’s aquaculture and the research needed to be undertaken to inform government’s policy for the development of a sustainable aquaculture industry in Malawi.
Key words: Aquaculture, common carp, fish introduction, exotic fish, Malawi.
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