Tanga region (180 km) is the most northern coastal region of Tanzania. The region supports a number of ecologically important and diverse habitats including coral reefs, mangrove forests, seagrass beds and coastal forests. In total they are 96 reefs, covering 376 km.
Tanga Region is the northern coastal administrative region of Tanzania and extends 180 km. south from the Kenya-Tanzania border. The coast is characterised by 96 fringing and patch coral reefs, seven medium sized mangrove forests, numerous seagrass beds, and several estuaries and bays. Since the mid 1980s there had been a decline in fish catches and increase in the use of destructive fishing methods especially dynamite and drag nets. It was estimated that 12% of reefs were completely destroyed, 24% were in good condition with the remaining 64% in poor or moderate condition. Administratively, the region is sub-divided into three coastal administrative Districts, Muheza, Pangani and Tanga. The population of approximately 379,000 live in two towns (Tanga, 223,000; Pangani, 6,000) and 42 coastal villages (150,000). The economy of most coastal households depends on a combination of activities that in the rural areas invariably involve fishing and farming. Many of the issues that the Tanga Programme was designed to address also face many other coastal communities and governments throughout the developing tropical world. These included declining fish catches; deteriorating status of coral reefs and mangroves; poor governance with low levels of accountability, transparency in decision making, co-ordination of sectoral management, and participation of key stakeholders.
The current programme objective is "Established collaborative fisheries and related coastal resource management programmes in the three coastal districts".
The Tanga Coastal Zone Conservation and Development Programme is an integrated coastal management programme with a current emphasis on the marine environment The Programme is working with key government sectors of the three coastal administrative Districts within Tanga Region and 20 village communities in addressing priority management issues. The strategy of the Programme is to deal with a small number of priority issues in localised areas. This is based on a project cycle of listening, piloting, demonstrating and mainstreaming and led to the program mainly addressing the priority issue of declining fish catches and its principal causes. The Programme took a collaborative approach between government agencies and local resource users from the start, with the use of participatory resource assessments. This was followed by participatory analysis of issues, action planning, implementing, monitoring and reviewing. These activities were initiated at village level, but with support and facilitation of government staff. The outputs of these processes were collaborative plans to deal with reef and reef fisheries issues.
Reasons for inclusion as good practice
The case study provides an example of how a collaborative approach has led to cessation of destructive fishing practices, more controlled use of reef resources and the designation of closed reefs to act as source areas and for recovery. It also has some valuable lessons for others in how to establish collaborative management and what to avoid.
Results and lessons learned
There are 4 collaborative management plans in operation covering 67% of the coastline. Another two are planned this year. Implementation of collaborative plans over two years in two villages has enhanced fish catches by approximately 10%. The plans have led to the closure of four reefs (one permanent, one for five years and two to be reviewed annually) and effective enforcement of laws, rules and regulations. The initial key to the success of the plans was the control of dynamite fishing in established management areas. This success had its difficulties as initial efforts with marine police and villagers without external assistance were unsuccessful. It was only when Navy personnel supported villagers that consistent control of dynamite fishing was realised.
Effective enforcement of laws, rules and regulations was also important in ensuring initial compliance with reef closures. Although it was villagers that identified the need for reef closures as means to replenish stocks, not all agreed with the closures and reef closures have been by far the most controversial measure of the plans. Despite an initial attempt at voluntary compliance there were some individuals who were not deterred until sterner measures such as fines were implemented. In one management area with two closed reefs, although villagers trained in fish counting recorded increased stocks and others that had visited clearly showed that they had been successful in replenishing stocks on those reefs, there was still pressure from some groups to open the reefs. After two years of implementation the reefs opened despite the overall rise in catches and increased stocks on those reefs. After opening initial catches were high but tailed off two months later. Villagers in that management area have now closed another reef just 6 months after the two previous closed reefs were opened.
During the same period, differences between users, the user committees on one side and the village government on the other, over collection and use of revenues led to the committees being brought under the control of the village government. In Tanzania, each village has a government, representatives of which are affiliated to political parties. Political pressure brought by elections resulted in the village government of the original pilot village to declare the reefs open. This decision was taken unilaterally with one days notice and so contravened agreements made with the other villages and the District administration. This lack of adherence to agreed procedures has led to the loss of an important component of the plans and it will be of interest to see what measure(s) will be taken by the other partners in light of this decision.