Fisheries in the South Africa Development Community freshwaters are found to function as an economic buffer and as a safety valve for thousands of people moving in and out of the fisheries according to the opportunities in the national economies. At the same time the stocks tend to be less threatened than many tend to believe. Classical management theory´s emphasis on limiting numbers of fishermen and co-management strategies such as exclusive economic zoning may represent a danger to the stability of this situation, even if management may be required to maintain biodiversity. There may be a need also to monitor and establish measures to control investment-driven growth in effort. Ten case studies serve as a background for a synthesis report. They have been conducted in five medium sized lakes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.