[Coral-List] artisanal fishing effort in East Africa

Joshua Cinner joshua.cinner at jcu.edu.au
Fri Nov 2 03:52:47 EDT 2007

Dear Elizabeth,
I think you'll find that the concentration of fishing effort on the shallow
reef flat varies considerably from place to place based on factors such as
geography, type of gear used, and access to vessels rather than some type of
general preference for fishing in shallow areas.  We have just finished a
socioeconomic study that covered about 35 coastal communities in Kenya,
Tanzania, and Madagascar (and 14 more in Mauritius and Seychelles).  In most
of the coastal communities we studied in Kenya, your comments are largely on
the mark (fishing on reef flats at 4-6m).  This was not a preference for
fishing there, but a limitation imposed by a combination of crappy gear,
lack of access to vessels, and geography (a coastline with a narrow fringing
reef and not much else beyond it).  However in Tanzania and Madagascar the
situation was different- they were definitely targeting deeper areas. For
example, in Tanzania, many of the fishers are highly mobile, have reasonable
gear, and are fishing at a range of depths (I think in Tanga they hold the
record for the most Coelacanths caught, which certainly suggests they are
fishing deeper than 4m). Based on my experience in the region, I don't
believe there is a preference for fishing shallow areas, but simply some
fishers have no other option.

There are numerous scientists in the region working on coral reef fisheries,
but as a first cut, you might do well gleaning through some of Narriman
Jiddawi's work, CORDIO's reports and Tim McClanahan's work.  There is also
some very interesting work being done in other regions on spatial behaviour
of fishers. We have a few basic reports currently out from our project (see
below), but since the field work was just recently completed, not much has
made it through peer review yet. 

Cinner, J. (2007) The role of taboos in conserving coastal resources in
Madagascar. Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Information
Bulletin: in press

Cinner, J., T. R. McClanahan, C. Abunge, and A. Wamukota (2007). Human
dimensions of conserving Kenya's coral reefs. in J. Hoorweg and N. A.
Muthiga, editors. Coastal Ecology. African Studies Centre, Leiden,
Netherlands. in press

Cinner J. and M. Fuentes. Human Dimensions of Madagascar's Marine Protected
Areas. In  Obura D, Tamelander J, and Linden O.  "Ten years after bleaching
- consequences and issues facing countries in the Indian Ocean.
CORDIO/Sida-SAREC. Mombasa. In press

Cinner J. M. Fuentes and S. Harding 2006. A Baseline socioeconomic
assessment of marine protected areas in Madagascar. A report prepared for
the Wildlife Conservation Society, Madagascar.

Cinner, J. and T. McClanahan 2005. A socioeconomic assessment of fishing
communities along the north coast of Kenya. WCS working paper

None of these specifically mention depth, but some break down the fishing by
gear type- which will give you some indication of the depth they are fishing


"I know that the human being and fish can coexist peacefully"
George W. Bush
Joshua E. Cinner, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow (APD)
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University
Townsville, QLD 4811
ph: +61 7 4781 6751
fax: +61 7 4781 6722
joshua.cinner at jcu.edu.au
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