(MENAFN- In a hurry) After a seven-month photographic investigation, The TRAFFIC report Assessment of marine species traded at artisanal fish landing sites in East Africa, released today, observed approximately 70,000 individual marine creatures landed and traded freely at sites in Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar Island. It is worrying to note that 37 of the 489 species identified were threatened*, near threatened* and listed under CITES1.
Fringed by tropical white sand or majestic cliffs, East Africa’s shores and reefs are home to a wide range of marine species that provide food security and income for many coastal communities. However, the irreplaceable ecological and economic value of these fisheries could be wiped out if current unsustainable fishing methods and lack of control persist.
Cause for concern
During the surveys, TRAFFIC experts observed catches from artisanal fisheries containing species listed on the IUCN* and CITES1 Red List. These include reef giants like the endangered Cheiliundulatus Wrasse*, which can grow to almost two meters in length, alongside relatively small reef species like the vulnerable spotted seahorse*, Hippocamkuda, measuring only 17 cm long.
It is worrying to note that 63% of the species landed measured less than 30 cm. “The wide variety of species and high proportion of smaller fish raises concerns, suggesting the use of indiscriminate harvesting gear to maximize catches, putting reef ecosystems and threatened species at the forefront. risk,” says Oliver Wright, project support manager and lead author of the report. “This could lead to long-term adverse economic consequences for local communities and ecological risks, as it reduces fish available for reproduction and, therefore, fish populations for future generations.”
Additionally, surveys have revealed that CITES-listed species, such as the large Rhynchobaaustral fish and the broad-mouthed guitarfish Rhina ancylostoma, are critically endangered*, locally protected and at high risk of extinction in due to their slow reproduction and unsustainable exploitation of their highly sought-after species. fins and meat. Demand for their “white” fins and products of other ray and shark species once again reveals the threats facing sharks and rays, whose global abundance has declined by 71% since 1970.
Calls to action
The report calls on governments to address differences in fishing laws between neighboring countries that can lead to illegal cross-border fishing, gaps and a lack of consistency in enforcement. It is essential that there are clear and consistent cross-border rules on highly destructive or indiscriminate fishing gear and methods, from mesh sizes and trap types to banning explosives and electrocution. It also recommends capacity building, cross-country communications and training in local fisheries law enforcement on catch regulation and marine species identification.
Additionally, awareness raising initiatives among artisanal fishing communities will help them understand the importance of sustainable practices, fisheries management and marine species identification and strengthen local restrictions on catches and trade.
“By implementing the recommendations in this report, governments can better protect key marine species that are important to the region’s ecosystems and communities while ensuring long-term economic and environmental sustainability,” says Camilla Floros, Chief of the ReTTA project and co-author of the report. .
TRAFFIC prepares for action
The action begins today as TRAFFIC’s ReTTA (Reducing Commercial Threats to Africa’s Wildlife Species and Ecosystems) project hosts a workshop with key stakeholders in Zanzibar’s artisanal fisheries. Its aim is to better understand the challenges of this critically important sector and discuss solutions to ensure continued socio-economic benefits to local communities while conserving the marine ecosystems that provide these valuable resources.
Last year, the same project, funded by Arcadia, installed information boards at key port landing sites in Kenya and Tanzania to raise awareness of banned endangered marine species and fishing regulations. These signs were well received by fishermen and local authorities.
*IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM
1 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
(All species and quantities observed appear in the survey results in Appendix I, page 26.)