EXCHANGE of fishing gears and provision of alternative economic activities to illegal fishermen has worked wonders in the coast of Southern Tanzania.
Under exchange of fishing gears Mnazi Bay Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park (MBREMP) offered a programme through which villagers could trade-in their illegal fine mesh nets in exchange for legal, large mesh nets. According to a study released through policy brief by the University of Dar es Salaam in conjunction with Environment for Development (EFD) the fishing nets exchange programme has largely helped to discourage illegal fishing.
“Although the large mesh nets did not cover all marine park households, those who made the exchange avoided the difficulty of paying for these expensive nets,” says the brief.On top of that the project has introduced an alternative income generating schemes such as beekeeping and fish ponds as substitute to sea fishing.
Although several of these projects have generated incomes for the people involved, many have been located in villages with little or no dependence on fishing, which limits the project’s ability to induce further reductions in fishing, encourage legal fishing gear, or compensate fisherfolk for lost resource access.
However, the projects introduced faced various challenges including the fact that the early gear exchanges with 5 or 6 inch mesh nets produced problems because the fish remaining in the Bay were not large enough to be caught with those nets.
“Few fishermen have access to motor boats to fish beyond the bay where larger fish could be caught with the large mesh nets. Park managers have responded with gear exchanges involving 2-3 inch mesh nets but even those may not be able to generate good catches with the degraded fish stock,” says the policy brief.
Early frustration with the large mesh nets has caused lingering dissent and the park has limited funds for gear exchange now.
The study says villages most dependent on the marine resources, typically those located on the Bay and distant from agricultural land, face the highest costs associated with complying with the MBREMP regulations, yet all villages were offered similar projects.
If projects provide compensation for the costs imposed by the park, fishery-dependent villages should receive larger projects.Similarly, fishery-dependent villages require larger projects to create incentives for cooperation with fishing restrictions.
Providing uniform projects across villages appears equitable on the surface but does not address unequal cost burdens across villages and does not induce the largest possible reductions in fish harvest.