An inspiring social model, by the community, for the community
After the first opening of a three-month reef closure facilitated by Mwambao, villagers from Kukuu voluntarily decided that only 30 fishers would be allowed to fish for two days, before the area was closed again. Their plan is to keep the area permanently closed as a ‘village fisheries bank’ which will only open to fishing periodically in response to specific needs. Closing an area of reef – even for a short amount of time – is proven to increase the average size and weight of octopus.
Octopus catch from the two-days of fishing was distributed three-ways, with equal portions going to the fishers, the Shehia (village) Fisher Committee and a community development fund. Now with a number of closures under their belt, each closure has resulted in greater income than the previous. The funds have been used to purchase school windows and doors for the primary school, a new nursery school classroom and to support the local football team.
Mwambao hopes that this story will foster a similar sense of ownership and responsibility among other coastal communities in Tanzania.
An out of control problem that one community has managed to control
Fishing with explosives, known as ‘dynamite fishing’ is rapidly destroying Tanzania’s fisheries and marine ecosystems. The problem has spun out of control in recent years and today local fishers say it’s normal to hear between 20 to 50 blasts a day in many locations along the coast. Efforts to end this practice have almost all failed.
During a recent consultation undertaken by Mwambao, we heard the story of the village of Mkubiru. For the past three years Mkubiru village, a small village located within the Mnazi Bay Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park (MBREMP), has reduced the use of dynamite fishing in its nearby waters to almost zero. Woman fishers from Mkubiru village first raised the alarm that fish stocks were drastically declining because they were struggling to feed their families.
In response, the community passed a resolution to fight dynamite fishing and have been diligent and steadfast in their efforts. Volunteers patrol local waters, the village doles out punishment to caught dynamiters, and the community compensates local fishers for any loss or damages incurred when dynamiters take revenge. Mkubiru has managed to stop a problem that is devastating marine ecosystems and, in turn, local livelihoods. We have a lot to learn from this community approach.
Artificial reef brings real results
The village fisheries committee in Jambiani worked with Mwambao and Reefball International to supplement their local reef with artificial reefballs constructed with molds and a cement mixture. The area is visited by local tourists for snorkelling. The area is being incorporated into the Menai Bay Conservation Area and Mwambao is working with the committee to plan management of the area.
Another partner on the project is the locally based NGO Marine Cultures who are piloting growing corals and sponges for export. This means we can transplant corals onto the reefballs, speeding up their transition to living reef. The project has been such a success that now the southern part of the village wants to construct their own new reef area. Now that we have the molds we should be able to replicate this project.
The power of community resource management
“People feel the natural resources are not theirs…We need to convince people that the resources are theirs. The message is not ‘not to use’, but ‘to use wisely’ as it belongs to them’ – Government Fisheries Officer Mtwara
Working together to increase profits.
Lobster fishermen in the village of Kigombe have grouped together to make artificial lobster reefs using cement blocks. Lobster fetches a good price in Dar es Salaam – mostly for the hotel trade – but they need to be sold live. Each fisherman constructs his own reef with a location only known to them. The group has solicited funding for an onshore aerated holding tank which allows them to hold the catch live until a buyer arrives. Mwambao worked with the group to document their activities on video.