Also known as Lake Malawi and Lake Nyasa, Lake Niassa is an African Great Lake and the southernmost lake in East Africa’s Great Rift Valley system. Its waters are bordered by Malawi to the west, Tanzania to the north, and Mozambique to the east. Home to a huge number of fish species, including hundreds of tiny, vividly coloured cichlids, Lake Niassa is widely recognized as one of the most biologically important bodies of water on the planet.
Lake Niassa may boast an incredibly rich biodiversity, but many who live around its edge eke out a subsistence livelihood. On the Malawian side of the lake, prolonged overfishing means that the size of catches has plummeted. Many of the communities who live around the shoreline still use mosquito nets to fish with, a destructive practice which strips all life from the water column. The World Wide Fund for Nature is now working to educate Niassa fishermen on the problems of fishing with mosquito nets, and many villages have now banned their use.