Training field technicians in fish species identification and fisheries monitoring, Northern Mozambique


By Kennedy Osuka CORDIO East Africa / Our Sea Our Life Project – 23 September, 2016

The town of Pemba hosts the third deepest bay in the world and is the headquarters of Cabo Delgado province. Flying to this town one can only be mesmerized by the sandy beaches that enclave the bay. In Pemba I joined three colleagues working with AMA (associacao do meio ambiante) and BV (Blue Ventures) under the OSOL project. We headed north to a relatively quiet town of Mocimboa Da Praia, where we had organised a workshop to train and provide in-situ technical support to technicians, on fish species identification and fisheries data collection.  This was intended to develop local data-collection capacity to properly monitor artisanal fisheries as well as roll back the fisheries monitoring in the six villages based in Palma and Mocimboa districts. Moreover, it provided a perfect opportunity to start the training in community-based fisheries monitoring using smartphones. On our way to Mocimboa we drove past vast stretches of grasslands which the scorching sunshine had drained of sap transforming them into light yellow patches that hissed at the strike of wind. The rivers had not been spared either as most had dried, exposing the underlying sandy soils.

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We held a two-day workshop from 13-14th September 2016 at Escola Secondaria, Januario Pedro in Mocimboa da Praia; four OSOL field technicians joined us from Nsangue Ponta, Quirinde, Quiwia and Malinde villages.

ko1The workshop was organised in three sessions of species identification, catch monitoring and community fisheries monitoring. In-situ training on fisheries catch monitoring was then held at Quirinde (15-16th September) and Nsangue Ponta (17-18th September). Some large sized octopus totaling to 170kgs were landed at Quirinde on the 16th September. Individual octopus measured about 4-5kgs. I had never seen such huge octopus from an open access fishing area in just a single day. Community monitoring was piloted in Malinde (15-16th September) and in Quirinde (17-18th September).

 

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Fisheries monitoring is intended to provide information needed to measure the impact of a project’s interventions or to monitor the effectiveness of fisheries regulations. In order to monitor change fishery surveys are done to estimate the weight of fish landed by a single fisher in a trip also known as catch per unit effort (CPUE). Under the OSOL project it was essential to obtain baseline values of the biomass of key fishery species that then will be compared with those of the target year. The baseline values were obtained in 2014-2015 and will be compared with those collected from September to December 2016. Often the collection of quality fisheries data is hindered by species mis-identification and failure to follow the correct process in catch monitoring. Continuous training and follow-ups provide an opportunity to improve knowledge of species identification and the catch monitoring process.  We are now ensuring such knowledge is transferable to community members involved in the co-management of the fisheries.