Diversified fishing program records good catches

The fishing-based livelihood activities component of the resettlement livelihood re-establishment and development programs involves a number of component pilot projects being implemented for the benefit of inter-tidal collectors, fishers and divers active in Tungue Bay, including the area impacted by nearshore and offshore LNG construction activities.

Pilot programs in inter-tidal zone development, mariculture and diversified fisheries aim to introduce and provide inter-tidal collectors, fishers and divers operating from various locations on the Afungi Peninsula and Palma-Sede with exposure to improved and/or new gear and operating techniques.
Opportunities to participate in experiential activities serve in turn as opportunities for fishers and collectors to diversify their skill sets.

Community participation is key to the success of the programs. For the diversified fishing pilot program, this involves ensuring the participation of local fishers on board fishing vessels as well as to regularly engage with and provide feedback to fishing communities on progress, results and findings of the fishing trials.

While initial results of the fishing trial program were modest, more recently an increase in the diversity and size of catches has been observed. This improvement is attributed to the increased participation of local fishers as experts on the trial fishing program’s vessels.

Harnessing their local knowledge of the marine environment, fish habitats and local techniques and practices, and working with them to demonstrate and promote new techniques and gear have proven very successful, particularly in terms of demersal (bottom-dwelling) and pelagic (half-bottom to top water column) fish catches.

Another component of the fishing trial program is the installation of fish aggregation devices – FADs – on the edge of the shelf east of Tecomaji and Rongui islands. These devices attract larger fish species that are usually found offshore, such as seasonal tuna. By aggregating fish to locations closer to the shore than their usual deeper-water habitat, it reduces the time it takes a fisher to search for a good catch, effectively “bringing the potential catch closer” to shore and ensuring aggregation around a specific location. FADs installed in 2019 remain in position and have shown to be continuously populating with a greater variety of species.

A new phase of the diversified fishing program will commence in 2021, using results from the pilot programs to deliver a broader-based outreach program targeting greater awareness and higher participation rate among local fishers. Subsequently pilot program activities will evolve to have a specialized focus on the participation of boat owners, equipping the boats with engines and improved gear, and encouraging the notion of group enterprises. In forthcoming activities, the  program boats will increasingly provide logistics support only – such as supplies of ice, food and bait – to participating fishers at sea. Opportunities for getting smaller fishing vessels participating in the program will also be explored.

A complementary component to the diversified fisheries program is post-harvest management, which introduces improvements in fish handling and processing techniques to increase the quality of landed catches with corresponding improvements in value and consumer safety. This initiative will focus on the use of ice and ice boxes during the fishing trial program, anticipating that it will further amplify fishing trial program results by extending their stay at sea and keeping fish catches fresher for longer.

Other components of the diversified fisheries program are introducing octopus traps and lobster casitas. In addition, inter-tidal zone development looks to enhance the productivity of the intertidal zone through the placement of shell cultch gabions on the seabed to support shellfish fisheries, while pilot mariculture programs will introduce sea weed and sea cucumber cultivation.

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