GVI Kenya is currently involved in a new project taking place in Mkwiro Village, which aims to promote coral reef sustainable fisheries. Partnering with Wildlife Conservation Society, the project looks at the fishing activity within the Mpunguti Marine Reserve, experimenting sustainable alternatives to reduce the risk of overfishing.
The reserve, where only traditional fishing methods are permitted (basket traps and hook and line fisheries) is considered a very productive fishing ground providing a vital socio-economic support to local communities. However, overfishing and unsustainable fishing techniques are greatly degrading these ecosystems.We are exploring a gear-based management approach by experimenting a modified gear (gated fish trap) in order to investigate its selectivity and thus reduce bycatch and promote sustainably practices, without compromising fishermen’s income.
|Modifying the fish traps on the beach of Mkwiro|
The traditional basket traps are unselective and catch a variety of target (high value fish) and non target species and juvenile individuals. One strategy for reducing this bycatch is to modify the traditional basket traps (malemas) with rectangular escape gaps (2.0cm x 30cm), allowing juveniles and deep bodied slender species to escape. Juvenile fish will then be able to breed and contribute to the recovery of the fisheries, and eco-tourism activities can expand as a result of higher ornamental fish biomass.
|Malema, a commonly used fish trap|
We are collecting daily data on basket trap fish catches and modifying traditional traps with the support of the local BMU (Beach Management Unit). Escape gaps are low tech, low cost and efficient in reducing bycatch, representing a practical way how the science of conservation can be used in realistic solutions that will ultimately benefit people and fish communities.
This promising project created by Tim McClanahan and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson with the Wildlife Conservation Society recently wan the first prize award for "Solution Search: Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries”, where more than 100 applications were received from 48 countries, from which a panel of expert judges selected 10 finalists, with the public choosing the winners.
|Inês Gomes measuring the catch|
Ayana Johnson (2010) Reducing bycatch in coral reef trap fisheries: escape gaps as a step towards sustainability. Marine Ecology Progress Series Vol. 415: 201–209