Between Villages of Tiwi and Msambweni, South Coast of Kenya
The FSA management project described below was implemented in the area lying between the coastal Kenyan villages of Tiwi and Msambweni, partly within the Diani Chale Marine Reserve. The Reserve was designated in 1995 to protect its diverse coral and fish communities. A sandy beach borders a shallow lagoon containing coral patch reefs and extensive seagrass beds, and is bordered by a fringing reef 1-2 nautical miles offshore. Fishing is predominantly done by artisanal fishers using a variety of gear types. Dominant gear types include basket traps, which primarily catch rabbit fish (Siganidae) and parrot fish (Scaridae), and hand-lines deployed from dugout canoes and small sailing canoes, which catch snappers (Lutjanidae), emperors (Lethrinidae) and groupers (Serranidae). Illegal beach seines deployed from the shore are also used.
Threats to the area include overfishing, land-based disturbances, and natural disasters. Fish stocks are likely to be over-fished, but reliable assessments are not available. In parts of the area, tourism development is intense, and has caused localized pollution as well as conflict with resource users. Kenya’s reefs were also severely impacted by the massive coral bleaching event of 1998.
This case study describes the first project in East Africa to study FSAs1,2. Work in this area regarding spawning aggregations was completed with two projects. The objectives of the first project were as follows:
- Identify local knowledge on spawning aggregations in the area through fisher interviews.
- Bring management and research stakeholders together to raise awareness of the phenomenon and to discuss management options.
The first project was initiated by IUCN’s Eastern Africa Regional Office (EARO), through funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). In March, 2004, a workshop was held in Mombasa, Kenya, for focal scientists and potential field team members from national institutions in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Seychelles. The objectives of the workshop were to:
- Inform and train a research team to conduct questionnaire-based surveys on reef fish spawning aggregations in Eastern Africa.
- Design a field questionnaire to collect information on spawning aggregations from fishers, with likely species, sites and spawning periods identified.
- Plan the field sampling and study areas.
Training tools used to introduce the concept of spawning aggregations to participants were the Society for the Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations (SCRFA) manual, and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) CD-ROM on Reef Resilience v2. The second step in the project was to conduct interviews in different areas in the three countries, to gather fisher information on spawning aggregations. The final activity was to communicate the results to management agencies via reports.
At the conclusion of this initial project, a second project was implemented in Kenya with the following objectives:
- Verify the occurrence and location of the aggregations described by fishers
- Disseminate the results to leading national agencies responsible for fisheries and marine protected area management
- Develop management and policy advice
The second project was also initiated by IUCN-EARO through funding from NOAA, and two research agencies were recruited to be involved in this work: Coastal Ocean Research and Development in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO East Africa) and the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), together with local officers from the Fisheries Department. The project verified spawning aggregations in four species in the Tiwi-Msambweni area, and spawning sites used by multiple species were located. A consultative meeting was held in October, 2005, between key management and research agencies to discuss and recommend the next key steps. Participants included members of IUCN, CORDIO, KMFRI, Fisheries Department, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). In the meeting, a number of priority action points were set. Recommendations on policy and data collection and monitoring were made, and existing data was amassed and disseminated to facilitate future collaboration among stakeholders, NGOs and Fisheries Department staff.
These projects helped create greater awareness on the phenomenon of spawning aggregations in reef fishes, among a small group of people from different research and management agencies in Kenya, and among fishers (particularly in the Tiwi to Msambweni area in Kenya). Research has been initiated, and although still preliminary, there is now a base of information on spawning aggregations in Kenya. This has certainly generated interest from Kenyan researchers at KMFRI and CORDIO.
Challenges to these projects turn on three main factors: (1) lack of funding; (2) the general lack of awareness on the phenomenon of spawning aggregations and their importance; and (3) the rapid turnover of national management agencies’ staff. There was difficulty in sourcing funds for this kind of work, and solutions were not easily found. This problem has hampered progress in developing and promoting management recommendations. The action points that were formulated at the consultative meeting in 2005, designed to develop specific policy advice and management recommendations, were stalled due to lack of funding. Since the completion of the second project in 2005, it has taken three years to get potential allocation of further funding to take the work forward. At the time of writing, funding is likely from the Western Indian Ocean Marine Sciences Association (though not confirmed yet), to specifically address management of spawning aggregations within MPAs on the south coast of Kenya (together with sites in Seychelles and Tanzania), and if approved will commence in January 2009.
The lack of awareness of the phenomenon of spawning aggregations, and their importance in fisheries management in Eastern Africa, has meant the allocation of time and resources toward raising awareness through campaigns, and education targeting various management agencies, as well as fishers. Communication, outreach and education were not primary objectives of the initial projects, which were focused on locating and verifying aggregations. In addition, the push for this work has come from a very narrow staff base (initially one individual), which has meant efforts have been very limited.
Rapid staff turn-over in the two key management agencies in Kenya, Fisheries Department and KWS, has exacerbated the problems listed above. A lack of continuity and sustained awareness in key personnel indicates a need for awareness campaigns to be run repeatedly. This has not been possible due to limited finances. However, a proposal has now been submitted by CORDIO to take these initiatives forward, and it is hoped that funding will be secured through 2009-2010.
- Communication is vital to success. In order to effectively promote the concept of spawning aggregations, and the importance of incorporating their protection into fisheries and MPA management, communication should involve a number of approaches, including: workshops and seminars, participatory research, information flyers, meetings and posters.
- Information on spawning aggregations should be disseminated with caution, and only to those who are working to conserve the aggregations. Groupers have not been traditionally targeted in Kenya’s artisanal fisheries, but the evidence for targeting spawning aggregations of the grouper Epinephelus fuscoguttatus in Msambweni area suggests these species are now targeted, possibly for the tourism industry.
- When fishers are consulted, their local knowledge is both revealing and detailed, and offers opportunities for integrating community-based management approaches within the more traditional national level fisheries management approaches. For example, fishers reacted positively to informal discussions on the idea of temporary seasonal closures in the basket trap fishery, to protect both migration to and occurrence of spawning aggregations of rabbit fish, as long as their other gears and fishery resources were open to fishing.
- Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- WIOMSA’s MASMA grant to Seychelles Fishing Authority and CORDIO—to be confirmed in late 2008
- Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO)
- Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI)
- IUCN—EARO now called Eastern and Southern Africa Office
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