Welcome to the ASCLME Project
Between 2008 and 2013, the nine countries of the western Indian Ocean region, including Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa and Tanzania, will work together through the UNDP supported GEF financed Agulhas and Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystems (ASCLME) Project.
An estimated 56 million people who live on the coast in the western Indian Ocean region depend for their survival on what they can harvest from the sea. Many of these people engage in artisanal fishing, a term that, according to the FAO, describes:
“traditional fisheries involving fishing households (as opposed to commercial companies), using a relatively small amount of capital and energy, relatively small fishing vessels (if any), making short fishing trips, close to shore, mainly for local consumption.”
Artisanal fisheries may be subsistence or commercial in nature. While artisanal fishers do take home fish to feed their family, if the price is right and there is demand, they will sell their catch. Artisanal fisheries are sometimes referred to as small-scale fisheries.
In the ASCLME region, artisanal fishers use small boats such as canoes and pirogues. Most operate from remote coastal fishing villages where malnutrition, poor health and short life expectancy are the norm.
Several types of fishing gear are deployed by artisanal fishers, including:
- Handlines - a single fishing line with a weight and one or more baited hooks. Fish are caught while trying to eat bait. The line is then hauled and the fish removed.
- Beach seining - the operation of a seine net (a net that hangs vertically in the water) from the shore. A beach seine is composed of a bunt (bag or loose netting) and long wings often lengthened with rope for towing the seine to the beach. The seine acts as a barrier by preventing the fish from escaping from the area enclosed by the net. Beach seining disturbs breeding activities in shallow waters close to shore and damages habitat, particularly in reef and seagrass areas. As such, it is regulated or restricted in many countries.
- Dynamite fishing: the practice of using dynamite to stun or kill schools of fish for easy collection. It is extremely destructive to the surrounding ecosystem, often destroying habitats that support fish. Dynamite fishing has been outlawed, but remains widespread.
- Trap nets and fish traps: may be permanent or semi-permanent. These stationary structures form a chamber into which fish can easily enter, but from which they cannot escape. Many different varieties exist in different geographical contexts.