FAO Regional Office for Africa

Strengthening ecosystem approach to fisheries management in Tanzania

Tanzanian Government trains fishing communities to manage coastal fisheries and the environment using the ecosystem approach to fisheries

Mkinga district council participants at the EAF training sessions.

On July 9, 2022, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries completed ten days of training with local government officers and community members from Mkinga district in Tanga region, Tanzania. The training served as a platform to introduce and raise awareness of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAF) to the fishing community. The training spanned 15 villages in Mkinga district, nine members from Beach Management Units, and two village leaders, representing women, youth and others involved in fisheries or management of the coastal environment.

The EAF principle is a widely acknowledged strategy and structured process for managing land, water and living resources in a way that recognises the interdependence of ecosystem components and how they interact with each other and with the communities that depend on them. The training was well received by the local community and government officials, who felt that it strengthened their engagement and efforts to manage and conserve the coastal fisheries and environment of Mkinga district, now and for future generations.

“This training is very important to me because I collect fisheries data,” said Fatuma Mwakasha Salimu, a participant in the training and a member of the Beach Management Unit in Boma Subutuni. "I have spent a lot of time in the landing site this year because of the closed season for octopus fisheries. What I've learned from the training will help me understand my job better,” she said.

The EAF training is one of the first activities supported in Mkinga district by a partnership project between the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC) and the Nairobi Convention, which is jointly implemented by FAO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) named “A Partnership for Marine and Coastal Governance and Fisheries Management for Sustainable Blue Growth”.

The SWIOFC-NC project, which teams up with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and the Environment Division at the Vice President’s Office in Tanzania, aims to demonstrate how a joint approach to fisheries and environmental management can improve sustainable livelihoods for communities that depend on fisheries and other coastal resources.

The United Republic of Tanzania is one of three countries in the region where the project is supporting activities to restore and promote sustainable use of coastal fisheries and environments in two local sites, Mkinga district and the Pemba Channel Conservation Area in Pemba, Zanzibar, to document lessons learned for the benefit of wider Western Indian Ocean region. The SWIOFC-NC project will use the EAF principles to develop and review fisheries management plans in the country.

Getting practical with EAF

The Ministry organized a two-day working session to review and update the current EAF training manual for Tanzania as part of the training.  Under the facilitation of Dr. Ernest Milali Machumu from the Fisheries Education and Training Agency (FETA) of Tanzania, a team of experts from national institutions, FAO, local government, and organisations worked together to align the manual with best practises and international guidance for EAF, as well as making it easier to use when working with local communities and small-scale fishers. Following the session, the team of experts met with environment and fisheries officers from the local government, counsellors, and district administrators to teach them how to apply the EAF principles in their work to manage fisheries and coastal environments in the area.

As a next step, the project team will return to Mkinga district in the coming months to put the training into practise as they begin working with the Mkinga fishing communities to update the existing fisheries management plans for Beach Management Units and Collaborative Fisheries Management Areas in the district. The voluntary closure of the local octopus’ fishery, which has shown benefits in terms of increased catches and income for the community, will be one of the management measures in focus. Other management plans, which are at inception stages, are the Closure of Reef Fisheries and the Management Plan of Small and Medium Pelagic Fisheries that the project will support.