Community Events: Artisanal Fishing Competition.
Conservation events are one of the most effective ways of creating awareness. These events enhance enjoyment and provide opportunities for participants to objectively interact with the resources. This in turn provides first-hand experience on the status of the resource and influences a positive behavioral change.
Sport Fishing, like game hunting, has always been viewed as a fun activity for the financially affluent folk. Trying out creative ways of awareness creation, A Rocha Kenya organized an artisanal fishing competition which was held for the first time in the WMPA in December 2021. Mimicking the periodic deep-sea fishing competition that happens in many parts of the world for recreation and awareness-raising, this event was meant to promote appreciation of the trade by the community.
The fishing competition involved local fishermen using artisanal methods to showcase their skills in the trade. The competition envisaged promoting a positive attitude in the fishermen who often consider fishing as a desperate last resort of making ends meet. It also helped local fish consumers appreciate the fisherman by observing them conduct their business. This local fishing competition was envisioned to raise the profile of the fishing profession by providing an opportunity for the fishermen to conduct their trade for purposes of enjoyment.
The purpose of the competition…
The main goal of the proposed fishing competition was to conserve Mida Creek and the WNMP. This was through raising awareness about the deteriorating state of the resources.
Other objectives included:
- To empower and motivate fisherfolk to appreciate and improve their profession and work.
- To enhance enthusiasm towards conservation of marine resources by promoting sustainable fishing methods.
- Foster good relationships among fishermen, fish traders, consumers, and other stakeholders to enhance collaborations in the management and governance of the Watamu MPA.
- To create awareness of the importance of elasmobranchs.
Seven fishers from Mida, Uyombo, and Sita villages around the WMPA who registered participated in the competition. The fishing competition involved the use of hook lines of a specific size to emphasize the importance of sustainable fishing methods and conservation of elasmobranch in the WMPA. The success of the event led to more fishermen committing to participate in the next edition of the event and gave some encouraging advice to improve it even further.
The very low catch of only 3 Kgs in total during the competition was evidence of the very low fish stocks in the reserve. Participants were awarded certificates of participation among other awards that included a dinner voucher for the winner donated by Turtle Bay Beach Club. During the event, the fishermen highlighted some facts and experiences bout the reserve that includes:
- Increased use of illegal gears in the reserve and
- Lack of vessels to enable them to fish in the open sea to alleviate the pressure on the reserve.
- Poor local governance within the local community as many fishers within the reserve are not interested in joining fishers’ groups due to past conflicts of interest, mismanagement of funds, and mistrust.
- Frustration by weak governance structures from the government agencies.
During the engagement with the fishermen and other stakeholders, several recommendations were made as possible solutions to protecting the reserve:
- Further follow-up activities and capacity building will help in practical conservation skills for the WMPA.
- Engagement in citizen science practice where fishers can be involved in data collection in the WMNP.
- More awareness as it brings people together to discuss and share their views towards solutions.
- Request for support towards getting efficient vessels so as they can access the open sea and allow fish in the reserve to breed.
Here are a few links to the media coverage of the competition;
https://youtu.be/8IpydAqJxVE K24 ENGLISH
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63BL9JCqA3U&t=1105s (KBC ENGLISH WATCH FROM 14:48 TIME)
https://youtu.be/IohxquSFteI THE STAR KENYA ENGLISH
https://youtu.be/mS98cWH7fiE K24 KISWAHILI