For many coastal communities in Mozambique, fishing is a primary source of food and income. Many families depend almost entirely on the resources of the sea for survival. Although fishermen traditionally use rods and lines, overfishing has meant they now resort to gill nets to sustain their catch.
Gill nets are often placed perpendicular to the coastline which means they will indiscriminately catch any species using this region for feeding, cleaning or migration. Satellite tagging has shown that whale sharks, manta rays and other megafauna spend most of their time in this zone. This method of fishing is a major threat to these species and the main attributable human factor in the shocking decline in their regional populations.
Communities along the Mozambican coastline depend on the ocean for survival. Through collaboration and education, we can work together to implement sustainable fishing practices and safeguard their livelihoods for the future.
Our flagship conservation initiative, the Sustainable Seas Program, aims to empower communities to manage their marine ecosystems in a sustainable way. We are helping members of the community discover and sustain alternative livelihoods as well as protect their coastal ecosystems, benefitting both present and future generations. We are collaborating with Community Fisheries Councils (CCPs), local community leaders and other stakeholders to identify more sustainable fishing practices, and are helping to develop Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA), where communities take responsibility for their own stretch of ocean.
Our overarching objective is to impart sustainable fishing practices ensuring that local communities learn to live in harmony with the ocean. We expect measurable improvements in the biomass of fish being caught as LMMAs are implemented and new sustainable fishing practices are adopted. Following the implementation and monitoring of a permanent LMMA around Tofo, we will be extending our work to other communities in the Inhambane Province.
Ultimately, we hope to see a series of LMMAs across the country.