Widespread mosquito net fishing in the Barotse floodplain: Evidence from qualitative interviews

David A. Larsen, Rick Welsh, Angela Mulenga, Robert Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background The insecticide-treated mosquito net (ITN) is a crucial component of malaria control programs, and has prevented many malaria cases and deaths due to scale up. ITNs also serve effectively as fishing nets and various sources have reported use of ITNs for fishing. This article examines how widespread the practice of mosquito net fishing with ITNs is. Methods We conducted in-depth interviews with fishery personnel and traditional leadership from the Barotse Royal Establishment in Western Province, Zambia, to better understand the presence or absence of the use of ITNs as fishing nets. We then coded the interviews for themes through content analysis. Additionally we conducted a desk review of survey data to show trends in malaria indicators, nutritional status of the population and fish consumption. Results All those interviewed reported that ITNs are regularly used for fishing in Western Zambia and the misuse is widespread. Concurrently those interviewed reported declines in fish catches both in terms of quantity and quality leading to threatened food security in the area. In addition to unsustainable fishing practices those interviewed referenced drought and population pressure as reasons for fishery decline. Malaria indicators do not show a trend in declining malaria transmission, fish consumption has dropped dramatically and nutritional status has not improved over time. Conclusions Despite the misuse of the ITNs for fishing all those interviewed maintained that ITN distribution should continue. Donors, control programs and scientists should realize that misuse of ITNs as fishing nets is a current problem for malaria control and potentially for food security that needs to be addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0195808
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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