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- European Policy Office
Despite being Kibiti's main fishery, prawn fishery has continuously faced challenges and limits ranging from the use of illicit fishing nets such as cast nets, monofilament, small mesh net sizes of less than 2.5 inches, overfishing, and unregulated fishing and of course the fishing of juvenile prawns.
All these challenges led to the fishing community not benefiting as much as they should despite the fact that shrimps are the among the most traded sea species globally.
In March this year, two Community Fishery Management Areas (KIMSA and MBWAKIEKI) out of four in Kibiti District opted to designate and declare three places as No Take Zones: Mbalanyimbo, Mto Jenge, and Mtawatawa.
No-take zones are marine protected areas that do not allow any fishing, mining, drilling, or other extractive activities. As a result, fish in no-take zones have the opportunity to mature and grow to large, healthy sizes. This means fish populations within these areas can increase with little human interference and perhaps "spill-over" to replace fished populations outside of these zones, but these impacts highly depend on strong no-take rules being strictly enforced.
In Kibiti this was a community-led initiative following an alarming decline in the prawn caught in their waters, As this is an activity that most of the community members depended on for both food and revenue generation, livelihoods plunged forcing the villages to come together and take action. They agreed on the identification and demarcation of the No Take Zone and incorporated this within their bylaws for more actionable and localized Management Measures to ensure the intended results are achieved.
The three areas were selected based on historical factors, such as the fact that they are vast prawn breeding and growing sites, that are known throughout generations for providing a favorable environment for prawn post-larvae and juveniles by reducing salinity in the estuary WWF Tanzania has supported this initiative by including the selected three locations in the map of the RUMAKI seascape project implementation zone, development of CFMA’s Management plans and ensure incorporating No take zones in the CFMA’s bylaws so as to provide legal status for appropriate management, hence reducing challenges to the prawn fishery in the Kibiti district. The management of the No-take zone was further cemented by training BMU members of the CFMA on how to use and maintain patrol tools supported by WWF such as snorkeling gears, under-water cameras, and binoculars.