Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The problem of spear fishing

During the past 3 months, GVIs marine team have noticed an increased number of sightings of spear fishermen; that is fishermen snorkeling carrying illegal spear guns off the shallow reefs around Wasini Island.

Spear fishing is illegal in Kenya due to the damage it causes to coral reefs when the spear is shot and misses its target and breaks pieces of coral – this can be irreparable or slow to recover, and destroys both refuges and food sources for many fish and larger vertebrate species. Unfortunately, enforcing this regulation proves difficult and it does still happen up and down the coast. Last week, we saw a particularly successful catch for one fisherman just off the Eastern tip of Wasini Island. On his line we saw Parrotfish, Snappers and Octopus.

A spear fisherman's typical catch
 We have speculated a few possible reasons for the apparent increase, at least in the times we are witnessing spear fishing. The first is simply that there is a movement towards this fishing method as a more lucrative and efficient way of catching fish, despite the risks. The second is that it may be because our search effort has been focused on areas outside the KMMPA … The third is perhaps the kaskazi monsoon season is making fishing out in traditional canoes impossible in the rough waters, so alternatives have had to be sought. Whatever the reason, we have been seeing action from Beach Management Units, the Fisheries Department and KWS hoping to stop this trend and eliminate spear fishing from the local waters.