Nelly Bassily | October 3, 2011
Declining fish stocks are a concern in many parts of Africa where people make their living as fishers. Seasonal fishing bans, designed to halt fishing during the season when fish reproduce, aim to ensure healthy fish populations. In this week’s story, a longer ban was put in place, together with regulations prohibiting the use of small-mesh nets. The measures have been successful.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has a wealth of fact sheets and information on fisheries: http://www.fao.org/fishery/factsheets/en
It is interesting to note that preserving fish by smoking and salting allows fishers to maintain their incomes during the non-fishing season (by selling preserved fish). This Farm Radio International script describes a fish preserving technique practiced in West Africa:
-Three fishing ladies with a message about solar dryers (Package 79, Script 6, November 2006). http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/79-6script_en.asp
In recent years, Farm Radio Weekly has published news articles looking at steps that fishing communities can take to ensure they do not deplete local fish stocks. For example, in November 2008, FRW reported on a proposed seasonal fishing ban for Lake Victoria: (http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/11/03/east-africa-fishers-and-scientists-back-seasonal-fishing-ban-for-lake-victoria-new-vision/).
In August 2009, we reported that some of Madagascar’s fishers are learning to use larger-mesh nets to avoid catching very small fish, another technique that helps fish stocks to regenerate. (http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/08/03/1-madagascar-fishers-reel-in-prizes-while-learning-to-keep-waters-stocked-syfia-info/)
If you broadcast to a fishing community, you may wish to host a panel discussion on the topic of maintaining fish stocks. Invite one or more local fishers and/or representatives from fishers’ organizations, as well as representatives from relevant government agencies or NGOs. Questions for discussion might include:
-How have local fish stocks changed (increased or decreased) in recent years?
-What has caused this change? (For example, has overfishing caused fish stocks to drop, or have management techniques caused the stock to increase?)
-What laws are in place to regulate fishing practices used by local fishers and by offshore vessels (if applicable)?
-Do locals play a role in monitoring the practices of offshore vessels, as fishers in Ghana are now being encouraged to do?
-What fishery management policies and methods, such as seasonal fishing bans or use of larger-mesh nets, do fishers use to promote healthy fish stocks?
-If local fishers observe a seasonal fishing ban, what income-generating activities (such as selling dried fish or producing other products) do fishers pursue in order to sustain themselves during non-fishing seasons?