Combating Destructive Fishing to Rescue the Endangered Manyara tilapias in Tanzania

11 Jan 2023 Lake Kindai, Tanzania, Africa Fishes

Cyrus Rumisha

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Stocks of Manyara tilapias (Oreochromis amphimelas), have plummeted to alarmingly low levels in recent decades due to unsustainable fishing. Reports show that the area of occurrence of the fish, which previously accounted for 73.6% of the total catch in the region, has shrunk from 5,000 km2 to 1800 km2 in recent decades (Bayona 2006). As a result, the fish is now listed as endangered and can only be found in the soda lakes of north central Tanzania: Lakes Manyara, Kitangiri, Singida, Kindai, and Sulunga (Genner et al. 2018). Tanzania has responded by prohibiting destructive fishing and imposing a 3-inch mesh-size regulation in an attempt to reduce recruitment overfishing (URT 2009). However, fishers are disputing the regulation on the ground that it is unsuitable for Manyara tilapias, resulting in widespread destructive fishing that threatens the sustainability of the already endangered Manyara tilapias (Reuben et al. 2017).

Therefore, this project aims to:

(i) Determine the optimal mesh size for fishing endangered Manyara tilapias in order to inform the authorities on whether the current mesh-size regulation should be revisited.

(ii) Determine the optimal exploitation rate of the endangered Manyara tilapia stocks in order to provide decision-makers with the information necessary to make scientifically reasoned choices

(iii) Raise locals' awareness of best fishing practices and build their capacity for wise use of fishery resources through pieces of training, seminars/workshops, public meetings, and traditional dances. Awareness raising on the best fishing practices and the optimal mesh size could reduce destructive fishing and enable the fishery to recover.

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