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Small water bodies are important for a number of reasons, and deserve more attention from fishery planners and developers. A large number of them already exist, having been built for other purposes, so no capital expenditure is required. They are located in rural areas, often in semi-arid areas, and are potentially highly productive. This means that they are a potential source of protein and employment in places where both are in short supply. Finally, they are relatively easy to manage, since the fishers can operate over most of the area of a small water body (Haight, 1990).

This last characteristic is especially significant, because it increases the possibility of effective management. Fisheries in large water bodies are very difficult to control because of their open access character, and fisheries management tends react to events rather than direct them. Whilst few Fisheries Departments in Africa have the resources to develop these small water body fisheries in this way, they are well-suited to being managed by local communities, and this may be the best way of realizing their productive potential.

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