Artisanal Fisheries of Kenya's South Coast: a transdisciplinary case study of a socio-ecological system in transition.
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AbstractThis study examined the artisanal fisheries along the Kenyan south coast in the face of two major challenges: need to sustain the fishery resources on one hand and dependency of livelihoods of the coastal population upon the fishery resources on the other hand. At the Kenyan south coast a large number of people, mostly artisanal fishermen, have been displaced from their homesteads and fishing grounds to give way to other infrastructural developments - mostly tourism facilities. This has brought a severe competition for space and resources either for consumptive use by the local population as is the case of artisanal fisheries exploitation or non-consumptive use by the tourism development proponents. There is also the shift from local traditional management of the fishery to national government policy oriented management. This shift has evoked resentment by the local elders who for a long time used traditions, taboos and culture anchored on the belief systems to control exploitation of the fishery, relations amongst the fishers as well as conserve critical fish breeding and spawning grounds. These challenges have not been helped by the rapidly increasing population mostly due to immigration from the neighboring lands, lack of proper management policy derived in a participatory manner and not least, effluent disposal and pollution of inshore waters - fishing grounds for the artisanal fishers. The study was divided into two main components: the natural component that examined the biological dimensions of an artisanal fishery and socia-cultural studies. The latter looked at the various strategies of exploitation of the fishery, rules and institutions that presided over the fishery exploitation as well as mediated conflicts amongst the users. To realize the biological component of the study the nine fish landing sites of the selected study area were monitored over two years.These sites spread from the tourist area of Ukunda to the remote bay of Mkunguni down the Shimoni area. The distance between the first landing site on the north (Mwakamba) and last landing site towards the south (Mkunguni) was roughly 50 km. These sites were representative of the general artisanal fishery along the Kenyan south coast and fishing was done almost exclusively by artisanal fishermen using a limited number of relatively simple gears. All sites were visited by two observers twice a month. During each visit records of the total number of fishers, number of fishing vessels, gears used, weights of the fish catches; scientific and local names of the fish up to a genera or order level were captured. Other observations in regard to preparation of fishing expeditions, weighing and portioning of catches were recorded during the visit. Methods for socia-economic and cultural studies started by building of trust: on one hand between myself and my two assistants and on the other hand with the community. This was followed by the mobilization of participation of the artisanal fishers in the study aspects i.e. undertaking a sea spirits appeasing ceremony. Other tools involved the use of social science descriptors like use of PRA (participatory rural appraisal), digging into traditional knowledge systems, observations, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, oral histories, surveys and visualization techniques. Though listed differently, in many occasions they became handy simultaneously or sequentially and investigations took full advantage of all available opportunities.
Publisher or UniversityUniversity of Bremen