You will remember that last October, Dahari launched a new mission: fishing and more specifically marine management on the island of Anjouan – in partnership with Blue Ventures.
This programme that we will describe below is financed by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)
The majority of Comorians make their living from fishing in spite of severe difficulties: fickle nature, unstable markets and insufficient infrastructure. Here everyone can become a fisherman or improvise as a fisherman for a weekend, for a month, etc. It is not uncommon to have several jobs at the same time on Anjouan in order to be able to make a living.
It is in this context that Dahari formed its team to build a positive future: to secure the sustainability of fishing and the revenues it generates, as well as the conservation of the Comorian marine biodiversity.
Project starting point: Bimbini, a village on the west of the island.
Studies and monitoring* were carried out on the ground at the start of 2015; the second data restitution is near completion. During the monitoring of the fishing, the teams are on the ground and monitor the arrival of fishermen in order to be there at the moment when they launch their boat.
Following this, each species is weighed and some samples of each species are measured.
At the same time, the teams find out about the techniques used, the fishing areas, fishing times and the type of fishing (offshore or coastal), the type of boat (canoe, paddleboat or speedboat), and the time spent at sea. The same is carried out for each new arrival.
*Samples: 366 outings / 44 fishing sites / 71 fishermen / 80 species
On average, the Dahari teams follow about ten fishermen per survey day and tuna and skipjack remain the species that are most represented.
In terms of fishing and the species identified, there is a strong seasonality due to the changes in season (humid from November to April and dry from May to October), that is why the survey must be carried out over several months.
The objective here is to better understand the current state of fishing and to identify management options. The weight and the size of the fish will help us to know whether there is over-fishing; regarding other data, this will allow us to measure the effort, that is to say the time spent versus the number of fish caught.
All of this information will be reproduced for the community in order to take stock of the situation and to decide on steps for improving fishing.
Focus on the research carried out
After a full year of collecting data in Bimbini, the teams migrated to Vassi to be able to continue the work undertaken since last October. The team of 4 people maintain the monitoring of fishing twice a week and also work in close collaboration with the village community (including fishermen) via sociological and ecological studies.
The sociological constituent of these reports serves above all the use of the teams on the ground in order to better understand the context into which they arrive, the community practices, the hierarchies at the heart of the village and the overall expectations.
Regarding the ecological constituent, this allows for a global perspective on the current state of the reefs and other marine ecosystems.
The communities have already made efforts towards management, such as for example, the prohibition of net fishing in Vassi.
As Sarah Freed recalls, above all it is about support: Leading the management without the support of the community, whilst banning for example fishing in protected areas will instead create frustrations and misunderstandings. We must work with the fishermen, listen to them and support them in finding innovative methods, promoting traditional expertise, helping them to answer their questions and thus improving their daily life at sea and their yield.
On Anjouan, there has not yet been tangible achievements since the data were collected and analysed but there are many concrete examples. That is the case of our partner Blue Ventures which was able to implement a fence system for fishing for octopus on the island of Madagascar allowing for the better preservation of the habitat. Beyond this conservation project, the work of Blue Ventures is very broad and many other innovative systems that respect the environment have been put in place.
Furthermore, an exchange visit is being planned for 2017 between the fishermen of Anjouan and the Blue Ventures teams. The Dahari ecology team expects a lot from this visit, mainly finding ways for community management.