Ensuring ‘Blue Growth’ in fisheries communities in the Western Indian Ocean region
Small-scale and subsistence fisheries are the backbone of many communities in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region, providing income, food, and jobs to an estimated one million inhabitants. Yet 40% of the fish stocks targeted by these fisheries are being unsustainably exploited—causing risks to the very survival of these fisheries and the environments on which they depend.
Better fisheries management and environmental protection are needed to ensure subsistence fisheries become sustainable. The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) countries face common constraints regarding governance of ocean use, especially in the fisheries sector and other sectors using associated ecosystems. One main weakness is the lack of regional institutional capacity and coordination, whereby countries struggle to take collective or coordinated decisions to improve the sector or the environment on which it depends.
Yet fisheries – and their supporting ecosystems – are in large part a regional, shared resource. Activities or decisions on how to use these resources in one country can have rippling impacts on neighboring countries.
Regional cooperation is therefore paramount to ensure these resources are managed and used sustainably. Sharing experiences on using management concepts such as Ecosystem-Based Management, the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries, Rights-Based Management, Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) across the region is similarly vital to the long-term health of fisheries and associated ecosystems.
The Nairobi Convention-SWIOFC partnership project aims to strengthen collaboration between fisheries and environmental management to improve food security and resilience. The project will work to increase participation of youth, women, and men in coastal communities (particularly fishing communities) in the management of the use of natural resources in the WIO.
Component 1 of the project, ‘Enhancing the resilience of livelihoods based on WIO marine and coastal ecosystem and habitats’, is being implemented by the Nairobi Convention Secretariat. Three pilot countries (Madagascar, Mozambique, and Tanzania) have each selected two demonstration sites and identified on-the-ground activities aimed at improving the management of natural resources. Examples of outputs include the development of national seagrass and mangrove restoration guidelines, the development of marine spatial plans to balance and organize the many different sectors and users of ocean space, and fisheries management plans.
The Project Steering Committee will review and approve the project proposals. Check back soon at nairobiconvention.org for updates!