PECCA is managed by the Marine Conservation Unit (MCU) located within the Department of Fisheries Development, and is responsible for the development, management, regulation and implementation of all activities within the Conservation Area. The unit suffers significant shortfall in terms of the skills, capacity and resources needed to effectively implement this large multiple use marine conservation area. At the same time, the law provides space for local stakeholders to play an active role in the management of marine resources by establishing Village Fishermen Committees (VFCs) and developing by-laws in collaboration with government authorities. Through the VFCs, communities have the opportunity to engage in management, surveillance, enforcement and monitoring activities. Yet, despite these provisions, there are very few examples of active co-management by VFCs.
In November 2014, Mwambao entered into a partnership with Fauna and Flora International (FFI) to pilot a co-management project within PECCA. The project aims to equip VFCs to play an active and respected role in the management of their marine and coastal resources, in collaboration with authorities. By so doing, the value and appropriateness of co-management will be demonstrated as a model for replication within PECCA to improve performance and effectiveness.
Concurrently, the Zanzibar fisheries authorities showed interest in improving its octopus fisheries management through a demonstration project in collaboration with the SmartFish Programme. Octopus populations are known to recover within just 2-4 months if temporarily un-fished, thus octopus recovery programs quickly demonstrate what sustainable fisheries management can achieve. In this case, it is hoped that the octopus project will promote engagement among communities, private sector and public entities. Mwambao suggested that the Octopus and the co-management projects be merged; improved octopus management presenting an entry point to improved co-management within PECCA. The island of Kisiwa Panza was identified as a suitable pilot location during preliminary scoping with all partners in November 2014 and a no-take zone has been identified by the community. Villagers have been trained in octopus monitoring and are have now created by-laws for the area. A 60 ha. No-take zone (NTZ) has been created and the area was opened in Ramadhan 2015.