The challenge of the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources in communities of greater dependence on natural resources

World Ocean’s day is here! This week we have been sharing some short articles from current grantees under WIOMSA’s MASMA and MARG programmes and now its time for the last one. 

The challenge of the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources in communities of greater dependence on natural resources – Case of Bons Sinais Estuary (Mozambique). 

By Jeremias Joaquim Mocuba 

 The source of income and livelihood of millions of people around the world remain in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. In 2016, global capture production of fish, crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic animals was 90.9 million tonnes, of which 79.3 million tonnes in marine catches and 11.6 million tonnes in inland waters1, a decrease of 1.9 per cent compared with the previous year. Many of the world’s fish stocks are depleted as a result of overexploitation, pollution and habitat loss.  Despite fisheries policy and management actions being taken by coastal States the overall condition of global fisheries is declining, long‐term benefits are being compromised, and pressures on fisheries are increasing. Many nations failed to control fishing pressure effectively and the proportion of stocks overfished or collapsed increased practically everywhere in the world Ocean. 

Factors of fast decline in the abundance of stock or assemblage can be numerous, related both to fishing, life cycles, and the environment, often operating in conjunction. There is a major challenge in implementing regulations to promote sustainable fisheries in both the industrial and artisanal sectors. In the industrial fishery, at first sight, everything seems to be controlled and that the sector complies with the regulations imposed by the authorities of each country, taking into account that the fisheries companies are categorized through the administrative procedures during their licensing process. However, failure to comply with regulations includes transgression of the periods of no fishing, use of networks mesh not recommended and the use of fishing gear that degrades the environment (especially bottom trawling). The scenario becomes more complicated when it comes to artisanal fisheries which are characterized by having a massive number of fishermen and many fishing gears that do not always enter into the statistics of the fishery authorities. 

The Bons Sinais estuary (North Mozambique) receives freshwater from two rivers, the Licuar and Cuácua Rivers, and it flows into the Indian Ocean 30 km from the city of Quelimane. In this short communication, I present some issues observed in the fieldwork within the project financed by WIOMSA that studies the importance of the estuary in the fishery resources. In Mozambique, artisanal fisheries comprise two segments namely the commercial segment and the subsistence segment. The commercial segment consists of fishermen who sell their product (with several intervenient in the marketing chain). Subsistence fishery is practised by members of the community, and the destination of the fishing product is the consumption at the household level. But in both situations, most people in artisanal fishery depend solely on fishing and have no other means of survival. 

In artisanal fisheries, it is difficult to implement sustainable fisheries management measures due to high poverty level and illiteracy. On the other hand, due to the reduction of catches in all fishery resources, fishing nets with very small mesh size are been used, which causes the catch of juvenile fish, shrimps, molluscs and other resources. There are many fishermen who use of mosquito nets, resulting in the catch of juveniles less 5 cm in length. Due to a lack of resources such as patrol boats and human resources, monitoring is carried out in only a few places in the coastal region and at certain times of the year. As a way of involving the communities in the management of fishery resources, the government promoted the creation of community fishing centres formed by fishermen from a certain area, which serves as a link between them and the government, and on a voluntary basis, they are involved in monitoring the fishing activities. 

Jeremias Joaquim Mocuba is a lecturer at Eduardo Mondlane University – School of Marine and Coastal Science 

Quelimane_mozambique; email: 

Photo: Fishermen Village (Chuabo Dembe) in the estuary of the Bons Sinais (Mozambique). By Jeremias Mocuba

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