In 2014, Mwambao conducted a multi-stakeholder consultation, which covered the entire coast and shed light on factors enabling this practice to flourish. Key factors include easy availability of cheap materials for making explosive devices, influential businessmen who finance the operation and market the fish, lack of local marine resource ‘ownership’ (i.e. inoperational Beach Management Units), ineffective law-enforcement at the district level as a result of corruption, and a lack of political will at all levels.
Major coastal towns appear to be the hubs with well-connected businessmen financing the operation and using local villagers as crew. Village fishers also engage in the practice on their own, both on foot and using local boats. Explosions no longer rely on sticks of dynamite; home-made bombs are common and are created using bottles and granular fertiliser. Fishers report that it is normal to hear between 20 to 50 blasts a day. Despite being aware of the destructive effects they continue to use explosives because of poverty, and are tempted by the quick returns.
As part of this project, a pilot data collection network using mobile phone technology in 9 villages was implemented, in order to record the frequency and location of blast fishing and related events on the Tanzanian coast for a period of 6 months from October 2015.
After the completion of this 6-month pilot project, Mwambao entered a partnership with WWF Tanzania and local NGO Sea Sense, for a scaling-up of the pilot to cover 24 villages extending from north of Tanga, next to the Kenyan border, down to Mtwara, close to the border with Mozambique.
This monitoring network – implemented for an initial 8 month period – is intended to provide the authorities and Tanzanian government with a dataset that details hotspot locations and peak times for blast-fishing.
In collaboration with Swedish filmmaker Lars Johansson, we produced a dynamic short 5-minute film on the blast-fishing issue, centred on the island marine reserve of Makatube, just off the coast of Dar es Salaam, which can be seen here.