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“Bring fishermen at the center”: the value of local knowledge for understanding fisheries resources and climate‑related changes in Lake Tanganyika

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  • Gideon Bulengela, University of Dar Es Salaam
  • ,
  • Paul Onyango, University of Dar Es Salaam
  • ,
  • Joan Brehm, Illinois State University
  • ,
  • Peter A. Stæhr
  • Emmanuel Sweke, Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI)

In this paper, we discuss the value of local knowledge of fishermen from Kigoma, along the North Eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika, regarding fish and climate-related issues of the lake. We explore how that knowledge can be incorporated into sustainable management activities. We used a qualitative approach to investigate the local knowledge and perception of changes and their causes. About 64 respondents comprising fishermen, fish processers, Beach Management Unit leaders, fisheries officers and elders were interviewed between April and December 2016. Our analysis shows that there have been increasing fishing activities in the lake from the 1970s. Increased fishing activities and climate-related changes in the lake have resulted in dramatic decreases in fish landings between the 1990s and the present. It was also revealed that fishermen hold valuable knowledge on fish availability, ecological conditions of the lake, and seasonal weather conditions. While they acknowledge the effects of changes in fishing practices and fishing pressure to explain the gradually decreasing fisheries, they have less understanding of the importance of longer-term changes in the lake environment resulting from climate change. This study concludes that future fisheries management could benefit from further incorporation of fishers’ local knowledge such as those related to ecological conditions of the lake and pressures from fishing practices. By expanding mechanisms to include the fishermen’s local knowledge, a strong signal is sent to them that their knowledge is valued by fisheries management. This has the potential to further motivate the fishermen to be active participants in contributing to sustainable management practices that can positively impact declining fish resources. In other words, fishermen need to be further “brought at the center” in decision-making processes that influence fisheries management options.

TidsskriftEnvironment, Development and Sustainability
Sider (fra-til)5621-5649
Antal sider29
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2020

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