Report on the Responsible Governance of Tenure in Lake Victoria Fisheries by Dr. Paul Onyango and Mr. Joseph Luomba

The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines) places responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in small-scale fisheries as central for the realization of human rights, food security, poverty eradication, sustainable livelihoods, social stability, housing security, economic growth, and rural and social development. As such, this report aims to determine how responsible governance of tenure can be implemented in accordance with the SSF Guidelines in Lake Victoria, Tanzania.

In this study, qualitative and quantitative research methods, including focus group discussion (FGDs), survey questionnaires were conducted in five (5)fishing villages around Lake Victoria, Tanzania. The respondents were mainly drawn from the elderly people who have knowledge on tenure systems in Lake Victoria.

The findings highlight that there have been some norms or rules used by the riparian communities to regulate fishing. These rules of tenure defined how property rights to the lake’s resources were exercised. For example, they defined how access was granted, rights to use, control, as well as associated responsibilities. In addition, fishing was only restricted to the riparian communities. However, these relations changed with the coming of colonialists as fisheries became open to all including those who were not originally fishers. Fisheriesmanagement was now under the mandate of the State. And the state regulations defined how access and rights were granted. For instance, fisheries was now open to all people, including those coming outside the riparian areas. After the independence, statutory tenure existed until late 1990s when co-management was established in Lake Victoria. Co-management is an arrangement where the State and the fishing community share responsibilities. It is a system that involves more of the statutory than customary system in the sense that state rules and regulations are used to manage the fisheries.