Approaches to the provision of advice on fishery management are changing from reliance on single species stock assessments to multi-species, multi-gear, and ecosystem approaches. Many of these new approaches may, however, be too expensive to apply to small-scale fisheries in developing countries. The fish stocks of Lake Malawi/Nyassa are currently managed by restrictions on fishing gears, fishing areas, and fishing times. Catch statistics and an annual frame survey of fishing effort provide input data for stock assessment studies that are used to derive these recommendations. This management approach is ineffective with several important fish stocks in decline, reports of local species extinctions, and changes in community structure as a result of the disappearance of larger, more valuable species. Failure to enforce management regulations results partly from an imbalance of economic and human resource allocation between the collection of monitoring data, timely analysis of that data, production of workable recommendations, and enforcement of these recommendations. We recommend redressing the imbalance through a reduction in the scale of catch surveys so that resources can be redirected towards data processing, timely provision of advice, management actions, and enforcement. A number of further modifications are recommended to improve and better match the levels of precision of catch and effort data. The implications of current moves away from “state-led” management to “community-based” management are discussed briefly.

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