Lake Kariba Inshore fishery Management
Community management of fisheries. Can it work?
Why bother about gear selectivity?
Mindu Dam Revisited
Aquaculture Pilot Projects notes
PRA in small water bodies
Fisheries potential in SADC
PRA at NIJO
Fisheries management experts recognize that the underlying causes of fisheries resources over exploitation and environmental degradation are often of social, economic and institutional origins. The primary concern of fisheries management therefore, should address the relationship of fisheries resources to human welfare; and the conservation of the resources for the use by future generations.
The main focus of fisheries management should be people, not fish, as the article on Effects of management regulations on the fishing community of Lake Kariba shows. The reasons for non compliance behavior when resource managers impose management regulations on a community without prior consultations, are clearly explained in this article. Fisher participation in management can provide a wealth of local or indigenous knowledge to supplement scientific information to help monitor the resource and improve overall management.
The story of Mwenje Dam in Zimbabwe shows that the route to community empowerment and common resource management is not automatic or simple. In community-based management of resources, effective control means that the by-laws should be enforced by those who introduce them, not only through the legal systems, but also through social sanctions imposed by tradition.
The problems outlined in the story of Mwenje dam also reveals that although the established Dam Committee has been functional, long term efforts and help in conflict management is vital. Government administrative arrangements should continue to help resolve conflicts within the community, not as decision makers but as facilitators.
The third article on fisheries management, by H. Nilsson reveals that conflict resolution over resource allocation remains an integral part of communty management.
Furthermore, these articles show that significant efforts must still be assigned to the task of developing participatory methods of understanding and assessing the role of small water bodies and of planning for their development with and by rural communities.
A participatory method which goes beyond "appraisal" into a shared analysis and understanding of SWB must be promoted. This in turn, should lead to management activities that are adaptable and sustainable over time.
The writer is a research fellow with the Centre for Applied Social Science at the University of Zimbabwe. He discusses the reasons why some fishers resort to illegal fishing, using Lake Kariba Inshore Fishery as a case study.
In lake Kariba's gill net fishery, state resource managers use a number of regulations to control fishing efforts. These include; restriction on mesh size, licensing, limiting the number of nets per fisher, maximum head rope length, and area closure.
These regulations were imposed on the community without prior consultations and with little or no explanation on why they are necessary.
The imposition of state management and control of the fishery resulted in locals losing their traditional legal rights to control local resource use. At the same time, the state because of logistical limitations of staff and funding, was unable to achieve an effective management strategy.
Nearly every laid down management regulation has being violated by the local community. Direct observations and discussions with key informants in Sanyati Eastern Basin revealed a number of illegal practices in C2 fishing area. Fishers fish in restricted areas, which are Sanyati, Gatche Gatche, and Nyaodza rivers. Many fishers use less than the maximum required mesh size of 100mm, some fishers possess and use more than the stipulated five nets per license. Some fish without licenses.
Although poaching is perceived as very risky business, fishers say they have no alternative if they are to survive. Poaching provides quick cash for the household.
The management regulations have divided the community into two groups. A group that complies and another that does not comply with management regulations. The compliers do so because of their religious beliefs and moral obligations to obey the dictates of the regulating authority even though the dictates may be contrary to their interests. The non-compliers believe that fish is present in areas where fishing is prohibited. They take risks to meet their families' daily needs.
Surprisingly, these two groups co exist in harmony despite their differences. However, the law abiding group is shrinking as more people are breaking the law due to the harsh economic conditions.
Skilled fishers with better knowledge of fish stock movements and fish behavior, can distribute their operations very effectively. They exert a higher fishing mortality. The following are a few examples of how fishers use their indigenous knowledge to increase fish mortality.
The imposition of state regulations on the fishery, especially gear restrictions, meant that catch was reduced. As a result fishers had to abandon some of their traditional practices which were useful in the sustenance of the fishery resource. Oral histories revealed that a number of traditional management systems are no longer practised. Here are two examples:
It is not conclusive whether illegal fishing and use of illegal gear have resulted in biological over fishing. However, there is a decline in catch for those who still fish in designated fishing grounds while those who fish in closed areas have good catches. Fishers in the area under study contend that their catch is going down. See table 1.
The only way of effectively managing the fishery is to make the community exploiting the resource, be the managers of the resource. The community should take advantage of the existing institutional arrangements that are already strengthened through years of dealing with people and natural resources, for example the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indeginous Resources (CAMPFIRE) committee. Fish should be included as another resource in campfire, and fishers be regarded as 'hunters'.
Under this arrangement, fishers should pay the community money as rent for exploiting the resource. The community must therefore decide how much rent each fisher should pay. Such an incentive will encourage the community to be vigilant when policing the resource. A fairly high payment would encourage fishers to keep a vigilant supervision on effort. Those who violate the agreed rules will be apprehended by the community. In this way, free riders will be eliminated.
The current rules and regulations must be revised to take into account fishers' knowledge of the resource and their interests. This will help in resolving the conflict between the state and the fishers.
Community management of natural resources has become a highly fashionable term, but implementing it is not easy, as the story of Mwenje Dam in Zimbabwe shows. See ALCOM News No. 14 page 4 and ALCOM Field Document No.26 for a recount of the work done at Mwenje dam.
A pilot project to assist a community in management of fisheries resources at a dam in Zimbabwe, initiated by ALCOM in 1991, is having its share of growing pains -- from which a number of lessons can be learned, and problem areas identified.
Although community management is used in Zimbabwe for wildlife, this is the first time ever that it has been tried for fish. It is also the first time that a community institution has been empowered by the state to issue fishing licences, control fishing and catch poachers.
"ALCOM is not afraid to try something new and learn lessons", explains senior aquaculturist Boyd Haight.
Mwenje Dam, 80 kms north of Harare, irrigates mostly commercial farms but is surrounded by communal lands and villages, whose residents fish, for both sale and own consumption, in the dam.
Mwenje was selected by ALCOM among several reservoirs for various reasons: its high potential for a viable commercial fishery, a nearby market, and two existing fishing cooperatives. Moreover, the community was concerned with the fisheries management, the decline in fish yields due to over-fishing, uncontrolled access and poaching, and the lack of control over fishing gears from the two local government bodies administering the reservoir.
During 1991, the idea was presented to and discussed among several communities who live by the dam. ALCOM, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, and the local District Council (DC) participated. After one year of talks, a Dam Committee was formed, representing four villages that border the reservoir.
In January 1992, the Committee requested the Government to grant it the appropriate authority to manage fishing at the Dam -- and that was when the first hitch appeared. Due to bureaucratic delays, it took two years for the authority to be granted. Meanwhile, people lost interest, and the project, credibility and momentum.
A second problem involved law enforcement. The mechanism to control access to the reservoir involves granting fishing licences. Only 32 gillnets, eight from each village, are allowed; their minimum stretched mesh size should be 3 1/2". Annual rod-and-line licences, are granted to locals, while non-residents can buy daily permits. Traditional fishing gear, such as "kamukore" and "javu" (scoop and throw nets) or "duwo" (basket traps), is outlawed. Eight fish wardens, two from each village, would be paid from the licence fees to control permits and fishing gear used.
Law-enforcement worked well initially. But, in early 1994, when the DC stopped attending the monthly meetings for six months, the Dam Committee eliminated the paid fish wardens and instead decided they would be volunteers from among the gillnetters. This meant that gillnetters would be policing themselves.
Soon, the former fish "poachers" (men using the "kamukore" and "javu", women using rod-and-line and illegal seine nets) realized that the gillnetters were using mesh sizes smaller than allowed. One reason may have been the high cost of buying a new one. Nevertheless, many villagers, feeling cheated, went back to fishing at night with illegal fishing gear and stopped paying for rod-and-line licences.
A meeting was called of the traditional community leaders and the Dam Committee to discuss the issue. National Parks officials patrolled the dam briefly. A few illegal fishermen were arrested, including a gillnetter in the Committee, and regulations enforcement improved.
One year later, similar problems have cropped up again. "There is less fish now because the gillnetters are overfishing the dam with their small nets", says Oliver Kaseke, a former and very active fish warden who became critical when the committee changed the rules. "The rod-and-liners don't bother to pay licences anymore because there is less fish to catch".
The Dam Committee secretary, Itayi Canny Dzapasi, member of an influential family, disagrees "We were staggering but now things are moving in line. We can't have too many people fishing in the dam or it will be wrecked". Dzapasi is himself a gillnetter; his brother is one of six fishermen with special licences to use hooks to fish eels and catfish.
Because of the investment required, gillnetters are usually the wealthiest and most powerful in the village. Obviously, the gillnetters dominated the committee, to the exclusion of poorer residents. In Mwenje two leading families are heavily involved in Committee activities.
On the other hand, the rod-and-liners and the trap fishing folk are the poorer people. Many are women. It may not be feasible for them, in terms of time, priorities, social expectations and cultural norms, to become active Committee members.
An ALCOM study of 1993 detected the problem: "The decisions of the Dam Committee tended to favour gillnetters. One solution would be to accept the Dam Committee as a gillnetters committee, and not expect it to represent the community as a whole. Therefore, the committee should not make rules that affect the rod-and-liners or trap fishfolk. The committee may also require basic training in how community organizations should operate since it is meant for whole community to benefit and not just for a few who are in the committee itself."
Sam Chimbuya, the Zimbabwean project officer with ALCOM who launched the experiment, points out other problem areas. "One is the need for greater and consistent involvement of the District Council and National Parks to help resolve conflicts, not as decision-makers but as facilitators."
"Another is the need for proper consultations with the traditional leaders, in their capacity as owners of the land."
Although elders and headmen were consulted, Chimbuya feels more should have been done, including the giving of traditional gifts of black and white cloth and token money. "If you win them over, it helps a lot because they are always there," says Chimbuya.
Instead, ALCOM concentrated more on working with the DC regardless of the latent tension, prevalent throughout Zimbabwe, between the traditional leaders and the younger, party-oriented, local administrators.
The endorsement of traditional leaders is crucial for law enforcement, especially where there are no traditional community management practices. Effective control means that fishing laws should be enforced by those who introduce them. This control requires not only the support of the legal system but also social sanctions imposed by community leaders.
Chimbuya believes calling an open meeting would help put the project back on track. He never expected the process to be easy, as he described in the 1993 study:
"ALCOM's approach was bottom-up. But this is full of frustrations. It means you start with villagers who, through many years of dealing with government and development agents, have become untrustful. It took a long time to win the community's trust, develop rapport and make significant progress. Establishing the community-institutions is expensive: it calls for high investment in time and assessment, facilitation and technical advice."
Since 1989, ALCOM has been carrying out surveys of fish populations in small water bodies. The surveys aim at gathering information on species composition, relative abundance, size structure, mortality rates and growth rates. Depending on the use of data, different levels of accuracy and precision of the collected data are required.
The least demanding types of information are qualitative measurements, for example, species composition. Relative abundance of fish, usually measured as catch per unit effort (cpue, numbers of fish per unit of sampling gear), represents an intermediate level of data requirements. The most demanding types of information are quantitative estimates of population characteristics such as mortality and growth rates.
There are many ways of sampling fish populations each with its unique advantages and disadvantages. However, all sampling techniques have one factor in common: they are selective. The selectivity is often only considered for size within species, but is present between sexes and species as well. Selectivity may cause biased, or distorted estimates of even the simplest type of parameters because a sample collected with a selective gear will not be representative for the whole population.
The selectivity of a particular sampling technique depends on several factors, too many to mention in detail here. As an example, consider estimating the size structure of a fish population by measuring the catch from fishers. The size of the fish that are caught may depend on the location of the fishing grounds, the experience of particular fishers, the type of fishing gear used, and the size of fish that fetches the highest market price.
ALCOM's small water body project has made use of several different fish sampling methods, including creel surveys, seine nets and gill nets. Seine nets and other active gear, such as trawls are selective for the larger sized fish. Only fish above a certain size are retained efficiently; an increasing proportion of gradually smaller fish escape through the meshes. Gillnets are very versatile sampling gears, which can be used under most conditions. However, gillnets are highly selective.
A gillnet of a given mesh size will tend to be most efficient at catching fish of a certain size. Few fish are caught whose lengths differ from the optimum by more than 20%. Several surveys carried out by ALCOM have used a standard sampling method using multi-mesh nylon monofilament gillnets, and the rest of this article refers mainly to this gear. These nets are composed of 14 randomly placed mesh panels in a geometric series. The mesh sizes range from 6.25 to 75 mm bar height (distance from knot to knot), or 0.49 to 5.91 inches stretched mesh. Each panel is 3m long and 1.5 m deep.
Lagler (1978) gave the following definition of gear selectivity, 'The size selectivity of a gear may be defined by a curve giving for each size of fish the proportion of the total population size which is caught and retained by a unit operation of the gear'. This long sentence is best summarized by a mathematical expression:
Cij = SijXiNj (1)
Where Cij is the catch of the fish size j by mesh i, Sij is the selectivity of mesh i toward fish of size j, Xi is the fishing effort by mesh i, and Nj is the number of fish of size j in the fished population. If the population numbers are known by size (Nj), the selectivity can be calculated directly. However, this is usually not so, and various indirect methods have been developed, which compare the catch from different meshes. They require no knowledge of the structure, but instead rely on suitable assumptions of the nature of the selectivity curves.
Mattson (1994) showed that the selectivity of gillnets to tilapia (Oreochromis shiranus chilwae) can be approximated by normal curves obtained through indirect methods. Hamley (1975) reviewed several methods of indirect selectivity estimated for gillnets, of which the method of Holt appears as the most attractive This method is also described by Sparre and Venema, (1992).
In practice, given selectivity estimates Sij, the relative numbers of fish in each length class, Nj are estimated by correcting the catch data as follows:
NJ = Cij / Xi Sij (2)
Figure 1 shows the effect of correcting a typical gillnet length frequency sample for selectivity. In the uncorrected sample, the estimated size frequencies are distorted by the tendency of the gillnets to catch more of the larger individuals in the population.
If the uncorrected sample was used to estimate, for example mortality rate in the population, the estimate would be lower than using the corrected length frequency sample. Another implication is that small fish have a lower probability of being captured. This could affect the assessment of species composition, as large species are more likely to be caught and enumerated. The estimated selectivities to Oreochromis shiranus chilwae for mesh size 16.5-43 mm bar height are shown in figure 2.
Note that the amplitude of the curves increases with mesh and fish size. Increases in amplitude are always present, but can only be assessed using direct methods. Selectivity for fish smaller than 8 cm have not been estimated. Tilapia in these size classes are usually confined to shallow marginal areas where gillnets are inefficient.
The estimates, available on request from the publisher, can only be interpreted as percentages in the water where they were measured. In other waters the estimates may be used to calculate relative frequencies. A word of warning, selectivity estimates will always vary in both time and space.
It is possible that the selectivity estimates are valid for both tilapia species than O. s. chilwae, but this remains to be verified.
Hamley & Regier (1973) described a test of applicability, and it is recommended that this test be performed before the selectivity estimates, or indeed any gillnet selectivity estimates are used. Mattson (1994) employing this test, showed that the selectivity estimates were accurate enough for adjustment of O. s. chilwae catch data from two out of three small water bodies. The test involves estimating the size distribution of the population separately for each mesh using equation (2), and plotting against fish size.
Lastly, selectivity estimates are needed to formulate mesh regulations for fisheries. By regulating the minimum mesh size, managers can decide the minimum fish size that is caught.
References and suggested further reading
Hamley, J.M. (1975). Review of gillnet selectivity. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 32, 1943-1969.
Hamley, J.M. and Regier, H.A. (1973). Direct estimates of gillnet selectivity to walleye (Stizostedion vitreum vitreum). Journal of Fisheries Research Board of Canada 30, 817-830.
Lagler, K.F. (1978). Capture, sampling and examination of fishes. In Fish Production in Fresh Waters, 3rd edition (Bagenal,T., ed.) pp7-47. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.
MacLennan, C.N. (1992) Fishing gear selectivity. Fisheries Research 13, 201-352.
Mattson, N.S. (1994) Direct estimations of multi-mesh gillnet selectivity to Oreochromis shiranus chilwae. Journal of Fish Biology 45, 997-1012.
Sparre, P. and Venema, S.C. (1992). Introduction to tropical fish stock assessment. Part I - Manual. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 306.1, Rev. 1. Rome, FAO, 376 p.
The author, a socio-economist (Associate Professional Officer) with ALCOM based in Tanzania shows some of the hurdles faced by the Dam Management Committee at Mindu Dam. This is a follow up to the article published in ALCOM News No 17 page 7.
ALCOM has been working for a year at one of the dams in Tanzania, the 400 hectare Mindu Dam outside Morogoro Town. This dam is very productive and has an excellent opportunity for marketing, but suffers from overexploitation and the use of illegal fishing methods (small mesh sizes and splashing). Participatory rural appraisals have been carried out with key informants, fishers and other villagers to evaluate the social and economic forces which shape the resource use.
Between 100 and 200 men fish on a regular basis at Mindu Dam, though the daily number ranged from 45 to 70. Most of the fishers are also farmers who give higher priority to fishing, because as several respondents say, "fishing provides cash more often". A few fishers have no other economic activity; these are often young or single men.
All fishing is carried out from dug-out canoes using seine nets, gill nets and long lines. 70 fishers use seven seine nets. A crew of five fishers fish every second day. The 135 metres seine net costs T.shs 150,000 to 200,000 depending on the number of plies. The fishers can not afford to buy such a net; they usually rent one through an entrepreneur in Morogoro town.
The normal mesh size for the seine nets is 3/4 or 1 inch, though mesh sizes as small as 1/4 inch are used. The most important species for this fishery is the fresh water shrimp, Macrobrachium sp. ., which makes 50-60% of the total catch.
Many urban - consumers do not like shrimp as it is regarded more as an insect than a fish. Nonetheless, around 80 tonnes of it find its way to the mainly rural kitchens every year. It is sold cheaply and in small quantities (T.shs. 20 per table spoon of fried shrimp), and so almost every rural family can afford this relish.
A small number of the fishers use gill nets which are either rented or owned by one of the fishers. The typical crew has two fishers as it does not take a lot of work to set the net. The worst part of the job, according to the fishers, is to stay awake the whole night guarding the nets. Many nets get stolen by fellow fishers.
The gill net mesh sizes range from 2 1/2 to 4 inches, though "illegal" mesh sizes down to 1 1/2 inches are found. The nets are bought locally at T.shs 1,700 per 45 metres and stitched together to 300-600 metre long nets.
The most common species caught by the gill net is Oreochromis urolepis . or 'perege', as it is called locally. It makes up to 70 % of the weight of fish caught by gill net and nearly 30% of the total catch. This is the most popular fish among consumers in Morogoro town. It sells easily and is found in any size from 10 to 40 cm. The biggest are sold on the main road passing south to Iringa, others at small restaurants or outside the fish traders home.
In the rainy season, many fishers supplement their gear by using long lines with 20-100 hooks. They catch catfish (Clarias gariepinus.), which is sold fried at shops selling local beer, pombe.. Customers here do not regard the taboos connected with this vicious looking fish. Some people think that eating catfish can make a leprosy case burst.
Other species (10% of total yield) found at Mindu dam include Petrocephalus steindacheri., Brycinus imberi, Haplochromi sp., Anguilla mossambica . and Anguila bengsenis labiata ., Barbus kersteni, Synodontis sp. and Labeo cylindicus.. The fish at Mindu are sold by individual auctioning. The average daily profit estimated by fishers interviewed ranged from T.shs. 600 to 4,500. Gill net fishers experience a higher profit (T.shs. 700-4,500) than seine net fishers (T.shs. 600-1,340), who have a bigger crew to share the earnings.
At a two day awareness course held in December 1994, the fishers presented and discussed the problems in the fishery and with the assistance of fisheries officials and ALCOM, the participants sketched out solutions. The fishers were concerned about; decreasing catches, theft of fishing gear, some fishers using too small mesh sizes, splashing and the problem of illegal fishing.
Catch surveys have found that the 3/4 inch seine nets are not really competing with the 2 1/2 inch gill nets. So despite its illegality, measures will not be taken to stop the use of seine nets. However, if seine net fishers are seen catching other species than the 'uduvi', the fresh water shrimp, they will be punished. "The other small species caught must be thrown back into the dam" says District Fisheries Officer, Mr. William P.C. Chambua, admitting that lack of transport might make follow up difficult.
To curb the practice of splashing (which aims at scaring the fish into the nets thus disturbing fish reproduction), it was decided to prohibit fishing during the day, as splashing was done mainly during day-time. But in the beginning of the new year, the Fisheries Attendant, Mrs. Silvia Chirwa, still found herself confiscating a number of splashing poles from the night fishery. The fishers agree that the only effective means against splashing was to let members from the newly created Dam Committee patrol the dam. Some fishers even suggested that these patrolmen should be armed. Patrolling was also found to be one way to control the theft of fishing gear.
There are many weeds at the dam, limiting the fishing area and the fishers complained that the fish were hiding there. However, the fishers are aware that the fish actually breed in these weeds and it is important to keep some of the weeds for this purpose.
Mr. Chambua has started to issue fishing and canoe licences, and numbering the canoes. Licensing is not always easy. Fishers find many excuses for not paying, though they agree that licensing could be one way of controlling the problems of illegal fishing.
Data collection on daily catches and gear used was initiated by Mrs. Chirwa in November 1994. We await the production figures for the entire year, however, ALCOM's catch surveys carried out in November indicated a yearly yield of around 350 kilograms per hectare.
The dam is not overfished, though it is not advisable to allow too many new fishers into this activity. Mr. Chambua is inclined to issue as many licences as requested, as it is difficult to restrain villagers from fishing anyway. However, fishing is arduous work and this might set a limit to the number of fishers at Mindu Dam.
ALCOM started in 1987, with one aquaculture pilot project. Now eight years later, ALCOM works not only with aquaculture but also carries out other activities; information dissemination, regional development and pilot projects, focusing on the management of small water bodies. This does not mean that aquaculture has been pushed to the background. On the contrary, the aquaculture pilot projects are still very prominent within the programme. At this moment ALCOM executes four aquaculture pilot projects.
Improved Aquaculture for Small Scale Farmers in Eastern Province of Zambia is a logical continuation of the two previous projects in this Province. ALCOM has had a long presence in this part of Zambia. The project developed a methodology for aquaculture extension in order to reach small scale farmers. Later, this approach was used at a wider scale, after it had become clear that fish farming was spreading in the Province. More emphasis was given to the training of extension personnel. This training was considered crucial to ensure that the farmers received proper advice on pond construction and pond management.
The present pilot project tries to identify ways to improve the production of fish ponds through appropriate management of the ponds and to fully incorporate aquaculture in the Agriculture Extension System. This last objective is necessary because the Department of Fisheries is not able to service all the fish farmers due to limited staff. Extension is carried out by the Agricultural Extension Service in which the Fisheries Personnel act as the specialists. They assist when specific problems arise and give training to the extension workers. At this moment an impact assessment study is being carried out to see the effectiveness of the different extension methods.
Questions like: Where or from whom do the farmers hear about fish farming? What motives them to start the construction of a pond? How did they learn about pond construction, feeding and management? . have to be answered. Information about the kind of farmers who take up fish farming and those who do not is needed. This information will be used to target the extension method and sharpen the message to make it most effective.
The pilot project Semi Intensive Aquaculture for Small Scale Farmers in Morogoro Region Tanzania started almost two years ago, and works with fish farmers in three different areas. It started by introducing the idea of fish farming in these areas, and teaching those who were interested in how to construct and manage a pond.
As fish farming was a new activity for most farmers some were reluctant to start. However, the first harvests of the fish ponds demonstrated good yields. Some fish had reached a size of 220 grams after 6 months, and this encouraged others.
The project now tries to identify the most appropriate techniques to manage the ponds in Morogoro Region. The techniques have to be adapted to the needs and possibilities of the farmers. The farmers must also recognise the advantages of improving their management abilities. This whole process involves discussions with farmers and trials to test and demonstrate the effect of the improved techniques.
ALCOM started to work in Manica Province, in 1990. The main activity was the training of extension staff in aquaculture techniques and extension. Fish farming extension activities started in 1992, and has been well received. In one area there were 20 fish ponds last year, while this year, 120 ponds have been recorded. The pilot project Improved Aquaculture for Small Scale Farmers in Manica Province Mozambique aims to improve the integration of fish farming extension into the existing agricultural extension system and to improve the culture techniques of tilapia and common carp.In the three pilot projects the Oreochromis species, especially O. niloticus and O. andersonii are the main species used for aquaculture.
The pilot project Aquaculture for Small Scale Farmers in Gaza Province Mozambique uses at present the Chinese carp species, namely grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella,)big head carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) and silver carp (H. molitrix). These species were introduced in 1990 by the Department of Fish Culture in order to develop aquaculture in the country. Grass carp is being used for weed control in the canals of a large irrigation scheme. However, due to water shortages this year, these trials have been postponed until the next season. The main activity of ALCOM in Gaza Province is to identify areas where fish farming can be promoted.
A participatory rural appraisal exercise will be carried out in July and August this year, to determine if the preselected area is suitable and to train the staff of the Department in the techniques so they can carry out PRA exercises on their own.
The nature of the aquaculture techniques and the types of species to be used will depend on the outcome of these exercises.
Rapid Rural Appraisals and the more intensive Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methods are becoming more widely used in development work to consult people about their living environment and to perform participatory needs assessment with them.
In most cases a PRA exercise will also serve to train trainers in PRA methods and experiment with PRA techniques; to learn to adapt PRA's to the needs of the institution, partners and villagers and to the conditions of a region or a country.
In the past, ALCOM has experimented with the use of Rapid Rural Appraisals applied to SWB (Small Water Bodies). Two Rapid Rural Appraisals case studies of SWB in Zimbabwe were carried out. Some of the issues taken up by these case studies were:
At that time ALCOM had also prepared trainers notes and guidelines aimed at encouraging the spread of participatory appraisals. (2)
As part of its 1995 action plan, ALCOM hopes to rely more on participatory survey methods. To achieve this, ALCOM recently organized a follow-up training on Participatory Rural Appraisal. The workshop was attended by fisheries scientists and technicians from Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, who, with the assistance of social scientists, will lead PRA's in each of the sub-national SWB projects.
The objectives of the workshop were centered on:
In addition, the workshop reviewed the theory and practice of PRA as applied to fisheries. To underline this goal, a case study was used to exemplify the methodology of participatory research on fisheries co- management in small-scale fisheries of Lake Kariba.
At the end of the training the national team members were asked to evaluate the effectiveness of participatory survey methods by going on a "live" PRA exercise at Mwenje Dam. Here are some of their insights and their counsel.
A general point was that, adequate preparation of the techniques used in PRA had helped them to systematically prepare discussions with villagers.
Participants were impressed by the quality and intensity of their discussions with community members. They acknowledged that this was due to the use of visualization and diagramming techniques, such as mapping, historical profiles, ranking, etc. It confirmed to them that visual aids help in getting people's interest focused around specific topics and visual aids succeed in stimulating even the less active participants.
The combined effect of interviews using visual and diagramming communication methods contributed towards a triangulation of opinions, issues, problems, and prioritization of locally felt needs and issues.
Participants warned that preparation and focus were still very much needed in PRA. For example, they noticed that they had not sufficiently prepared themselves when conducting Semi Structured interviews (SSI). They suggested that this technique, often described in PRA literature as one of the most powerful of PRA techniques needs to be well prepared, and should, wherever possible, be used in conjunction with visualization and diagramming methods.
It seemed that interviews which had solely relied on SSI had not performed well in terms of participation and reliability of the information received. This was compared to cases where SSI had been used along side other visualization and diagramming methods. It was noted that the information gathered here was more comprehensive.
The national team members concluded by saying "if SSI is not well prepared there is a real danger that PRA encourages the use of a "Buzz words" by agents that are in fact still relying "on their old comfortable ways" and who are paying lip service to effective participation.
(1) A compiled summary of the Rapid Appraisals for Small Water
Bodies was published by ALCOM, Report No. 11, 1992
(2) Training of Rapid Appraisal Teams; Notes for Trainers. FAO Fisheries Circular, No. 868 Rome,FAO 1993, By Townsley, P. Copies are available at ALCOM.
Besides the four sub-national pilot projects on small water bodies (ALCOM News No.18, page 11.) which aim at the collection of physical, chemical, biological and socio-economic data from a limited number of reservoirs, ALCOM is continuing its work on the SADC small water bodies inventory and potential assessment. The first report on this inventory will bring an overview of the characteristics of SWB's in the different countries.
In the coming years ALCOM aims to equip decision makers who may be local communities, government or non-governmental organizations with useful tools to improve SWB fisheries management in the region. These tools should give indications for the execution of some of the following activities aiming at fish production enhancement:
The different tools to be developed in the next years will consist of:
This is one of the most important measures in the enhancement of fish production management . In some regions gillnetting is completely prohibited while in the other regions, gillnets and mosquito-net seines are used even in the smallest water bodies. Guidelines for the selection of gear will certainly help the people in charge of the fisheries management to make appropriate decisions.
Rapid MSY estimation is important to determine the optimum fishing effort for reservoirs. A lot of reservoirs are being under-or overexploited which results in production losses. A method, comparable to the morpho-edaphic index (MEI), but probably with other variables, could help in the determination of potential yield. Integration of the method into a GIS for the input of micro-climatic or even geological variables would be very useful.
Restocking is sometimes a useful action if the natural population has disappeared due to drying up of the reservoir. Feasibility of restocking is determined by the cost of this operation (distance to the nearest supplier, price of the fingerlings) and the potential yield of the reservoirs. Stocking of new species is mostly a single action which aims at either populating a vacant niche, improving the present fish stock or as an action against a pest, parasite or disease infestation. The selection of the species is very important and this choice could easily be integrated in a GIS regarding actual species distribution and optimum conditions for species.
In particular cases, habitat improvement and nutrient input can be feasible ways to improve the production of a reservoir when the fish production is one of the most important functions of the reservoir. However, fish production is usually a secondary function as most reservoirs supply drinking water for cattle and humans.
Cage and pen culture are popular in certain countries, especially in Asia, but they require a number of conditions: skill , fish food at low price in comparison with fish price etc. Just like the habitat improvement and nutrient input this intervention will only occur in a very limited number of cases and will not feature on ALCOM's priority list.
The actual SWB database is far from complete but this should not be an obstacle for the regular distribution of this database in order to get more information from the people in the field. A regular update, eventually country by country, would help to keep the database alive and growing. Finally the database could be made available to the internet public on an ftp site or by the gopher or WWW server.
Calling all you professionals!! What impression do you give to your outsiders (anybody who is not a fisheries professional in this case) A group of twelve fisheries professionals from Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe attended a seven day training workshop on Participatory Rural Appraisal for Small Reservoir Fisheries Management held in Harare, Zimbabwe from 16 May 1995.
We were all ready to acquire another technique to utilise in achieving goals in the various ALCOM pilot projects in our respective countries. What a variety of expectations we all had! For each and every one of us, PRA would help bridge that yawning gap in our work which nothing else seemed able to cross.
We were all very proud to be called professionals until we got down to characterise the images such people paint in the eyes of the rural folk and what the former thought of the later. Picture this: professionals are "self centered, know - it - all, arrogant, good speakers and bad listeners, wafflers etc." while professionals see rural folk as "illiterate, poor, polygamous, malnourished, conservative. etc". Can all professionals put up their hands once more please!
As a result of these skewed attitudes, development research work carried out by the afore mentioned professionals tended to be highly biased and excluded the views of the most important person; the rural folk for whom the development work is targeted. The results that come out of such efforts can be classified as anything from "tourist research reports" to "roadside reports". As we all learnt, the rural folk are in most cases, able to articulate solutions to their problems but they are not given the chance to do so and neither do they have the means with which to effect these solutions.
It seems that development researchers have either been oblivious of this fact or were too much in a hurry to be bothered. Needless to say the resultant development efforts have not met with much success.
We were at NIJO, a government training centre just outside Harare, Zimbabwe, to make sure we do not fall into the same old trap. So we were taken through a week of well structured PRA training accompanied by a thorough "de-brainwashing" at the beginning to mentally prepare us. This was capped by a PRA exercise at Mwenje dam which further served to stress the need for very careful planning and good communication with the rural folk. A post mortem of our PRA at Mwenje brought out a wealth of information and also gave us hints on which methods we could have done differently.
The real beauty of the PRA technique is its flexibility. It gives one the leeway to develop new tools for information gathering to suit the environment in which one is working.
ALCOM has scheduled a regional Technical Consultation on Extension Methods for smallholder fish farming, 20-24 November 1995 in Lilongwe, Malawi, with field trips to Eastern Province, Zambia. Arrangements are being finalized with the local organizers.
Practical aspects of stocking small water bodies: An example from Zimbabwe. CIFA Technical Paper No. 28. Rome, FAO 1994, 40 p. By Henk van der Mheen (FAO/ALCOM, Aquaculturist).
Stocking of reservoirs is one of the management interventions that can be used to increase fish production. This document presents information gathered during the first phase of a restocking programme in Zimbabwe. The purpose of the paper is to synthesize the experience in such a way that it can be used elsewhere to assist planners and administrators assess the feasibility of stocking and restocking.
Small water bodies and their fisheries in Southern Africa. CIFA Technical Paper No. 29. Rome , FAO 1995, 68p. By Brian Marshall (Lecturer, Biological Sciences, U.Z) & Monique Maes (FAO/ALCOM, Fisheries Expert)
In this document, the nature of small water bodies is discussed. The physical and climatical conditions of southern Africa and their effects on fisheries productivity are considered as well as the approaches to yield production. The possibilities of enhancing fisheries and methods available to enhance them are also discussed. The paper concludes that, while SWB's are highly productive per unit area, with proper management, they can be an important source of fish.
For more information contact: The Information Officer, ALCOM Mail: PO Box 3730, Harare, Zimbabwe Location : Fisheries Research Unit, National Parks Complex, Sandringham Drive, Harare, Zimbabwe Telephone: 263-4-724985, 734797 Fax: 263-4-736847 Telex: 260-40 FAO ZW E-mail: ALCOM@Harare.iafrica.com
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