CORDIO goes on an expedition of two fishing villages along the Mozambique channel


Our journey began from Pemba, Mozambique, with all roads leading to Mocimboa de Praia, and then on to Palma in the northernmost part of Mozambique. After five hours and 300 km on the tarmac road from Pemba we finally arrived in Mocimboa de Praia where we spent a night. The next day after a well-deserved rest, we hit the road again in the wee hours of the morning with our sights on Palma and the village of Quiwia, to meet with the local fishing group (Conselho Comunitário de Pesca – CCP, the local level unit tasked with management of fisheries activities in the area as set out in Mozambican legislation). We would later join the Our Sea Our Life (OSOL) team that had been in the field for a couple of days already.

Team from CORDIO, AMA- OSOL

Team from CORDIO, AMA and Community

Mapping

We were received with the warmth that I have come to associate with coastal communities, as Farouk, the OSOL technician and Jeremy, the project coordinator introduced us to the CCP executives and members. We sat on large canvas, under a tree which shaded us from the angry morning sun. The heat notwithstanding, the CCP members were eager to hear and to talk to us. This Swahili speaking community shattered my initial fear that communication would be an uphill struggle; the language and culture of fishing communities being similar from here through Tanzania and into Kenya.

After introductions, we embarked on our core mission. We began with a participatory mapping exercise drawing up a map of the fishing grounds of Quiwia that would later be used to guide a habitat mapping exercise. We spent the rest of the day with our newly discovered and happy cooks, Tima and Selemani, preparing fish for the evening meal. Seafood, chicken, sima (the maize meal staple also common in Kenya), rice and bread would be our daily food during the stay, as we shuttled between Farouk’s house and the sea.

After three days of decent field work and working with the humble fishers of Quiwia we had to bid them goodbye with our next stop being the village of Lalane. Unlike Quiwia, Lalane has a massive intertidal zone that supports gleaning (for crustaceans and mollusks) and extensive use of mosquito nets. There were large seagrass beds in the intertidal area where oysters were collected by the local community. The extensive and shallow subtidal platform off Lalane was popular for fishing, especially for octopus. In this village the language barrier became apparent as the communities transitioned from Swahili to Makonde and Kimwani languages. Thankfully Jamen and Domingo, my field mates were there to do the translations. We met migrant fishers in droves. Sadly, most fishers here utilize small meshed size nets, thus capturing large quantities of juvenile fish that could make anyone who has a heart for the sea weep. The locals were not happy with this situation.

One fisherman from Lalane said – “… The migrant fishers fish every time on both low water and high water and catch very small fish. Even you if you went to Nsangue Point, you would cry from just seeing their landings”.

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Children watching as we leave the shore

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Mosquito net being used as scoop nets

Preparing dinner

The fishers however hold on to the hope that their efforts to initiate a community closure area in the fishing zone of Naunde, would mark the beginning of protecting the area from illegal and destructive fishing practices. On one of the days, we took a long walk on the beach to mark the Issimba channel – the northern boundary of Lalane and Ussife Njala channel, the southern boundary. We made stops to observe how fish and oyster were being dried on the beach and to quench our thirst with mangoes. Our local guide, Salim, was so passionate about Lalane that he was always speaking about its beauty and marvels; with high hopes that things could change for the better in the near future if sustainable fisheries management efforts could be effectively intensified. As for the many children who stood to stare at us … sometimes with shy smiles … my hope is that the CCP shall maintain the momentum towards placing suitable management measures of the fishery for their future.

To understand more about the OSOL project visit: Our Sea Our Life and Zoological Society of London

You can also see the project video on Youtube

Nosso Mar, Nossa Vida – Our Sea Our Life
Fishery co-management project in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. It tackles the reduction of fish stocks and engages with coastal communities to manage their marine resources. Innovation are the mechanisms to sustain the management of fisheries by the Community Fishery Councils – CCP, at village level. Economic activities are diversified and strengthened in a way that suits local markets and communities’ needs, and to reduce pressure on marine resources.