Learning, Sharing, Acting

A workshop held at the coastal town of Bagamoyo during 1718 August 2015 addressed the role of the SSF Guidelines in meeting the challenges of coastal communities in Tanzania

This report is by Lorna Slade (lornaslade@mwambao.or.tz), Ali Thani (alythani@gmail.com) of Mwambao Coastal Community Network, Tanzania, and Rosemarie Myaipopo (ny_lila@yahoo.com), Member, ICSF

The adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) by the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) of FAO in June 2014 has established a firm foundation for organizing and facilitating activities that will enhance the profile of small-scale fisheries around the world and promote their role as diligent actors in the fight against global poverty. These Guidelines resonate with the situations that coastal fisheries in Tanzania face. Coastal Tanzanian communities have to confront a number of challenges in improving their livelihoods from fisheries, not the least of which is the increase in destructive fishing methods, including the common use of explosives. Additionally, the role of women in the small-scale fisheries value chain is largely unrecognized, in terms of their role in gleaning and fish processing and selling.

In response to the move to disseminate the SSF Guidelines, Tanzanian member of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF), in collaboration with MWAMBAO Coastal Community Network of Tanzania, conducted a workshop with policy-makers and representatives from marine fishing communities during 1718 August 2015 at Bagamoyo.

MWAMBAO is an evolving network of coastal communities in Tanzania that is working to build the capacity of communities and bring them together while also linking up with scientists, government institutions, practitioners and experts to facilitate cross-learning, information sharing and joint action.

The workshop paid tribute to the memory of Chandrika Sharma, the former Executive Secretary of ICSF, who was very closely involved in the process leading up to the adoption of the SSF Guidelines, but who was sadly lost when the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on 8 March 2014.

The total number of participants at the Bagamoyo workshop was 36, of whom 10 were female and 26 male. The main objectives of the workshop were to:

i. continue the participatory process of creating awareness of the SSF Guidelines and their applicability in the local context of Tanzania;

ii. explore how current legislation reflects the SSF Guidelines and where there might be room for improvement;

iii. stimulate local awareness amongst members of the marine fishing community in Tanzania of the breadth of their rights both in the national and international context; and

iv. identify ways in which fishing communities can begin to implement the SSF Guidelines on the ground.

The workshop was conducted in the coastal town of Bagamoyo and involved participants from different locations and at different levels of governance, from policymakers to fishers themselves. Zanzibar fisheries were not included in the workshop largely for logistical reasons but also because Zanzibar fisheries legislation differs from that of the mainland. In order to facilitate easier communication with participants, a Kiswahili translation of the SSF Guidelines was prepared.

A brief introduction was given on the development of the SSF Guidelines until their adoption on 1 June 2014 so that the members would appreciate the participatory efforts taken to involve and consult stakeholders from different levels of the fisheries community. These included representatives of governments, small-scale fishers, fishworkers and their organizations, researchers, development partners and other relevant stakeholders from over 120 countries in six regions and over 20 civil society organizations.

The methodology for the workshop involved:

  • appreciative inquiry;
  • giving priority to the rights and responsibilities in small-scale fisheries;
  • sharing of related experiences of small-scale fisheries in other countries using a community film;
  • presentation on key issues; and
  • group discussions and deliberations.

Highlights of the workshop

(i) Sharing of experiences using a community film

Two videos were shown from two different parts of the world to illustrate the rights of small-scale fishers and the issues which they are currently facing.

a. Voice of Fishers, Panama, which was produced under the ‘Voices of Fishers’ project conducted in relation to the development of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. The documentary production involves testimonies from members of the fishing community of Kuna Yala, Comarca, who talk about their vision and the reality of issues relating to tenure and rights over traditional fisheries, and the need for the government to recognize their traditional governance system.

b. A Cry for Rights, is a participatory video facilitated by MWAMBAO with the fisher communities in Lamu, Kenya, regarding the need for community consultation with regard to a major local port development which will significantly impact their fishing grounds, livelihoods and culture.

(ii) Clarification of small-scale fisheries governance issues from a central government perspective

At the workshop, it was elaborated that the fisheries sector, being an important livelihood sector for the people and economy of Tanzania, is a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder sector, within which a number of rights and responsibilities have been developed in order to ensure the desired functioning of the sector. Governance responsibilities are outlined by the national policy, legal and institutional framework. Key instruments include the National Fisheries Sector Policy and Strategies Statement (NFSPSS) of 1997; the Fisheries Act No. 22 of 2003 and the Principal Regulations of 2009 and 2012, usually reviewed from time to time.

Local participation through decentralized management of the fisheries sector is enshrined in these instruments through which the government recognizes the central and significant role of small-scale fisheries and fishing communities in the country. In addition to fishers having the right to make demands on the government for information, facilitation and other services to enable them to benefit from fisheries resources, small-scale fishers also bear responsibility for protecting resources, and ensuring sustainable use and compliance to sensitive management practices on the marine environment guided by their own bylaws.

(iii) Group discussions and deliberations by participants

Five groups were formed, each assigned under one of the major themes of the SSF Guidelines, namely, (a) Governance of tenure; (b) Social development, employment and decent work; (c) Value chain (including post-harvest and trade activities); (d) Gender equity; and (d) Climate change and disaster risk.

From the ensuing discussions, some of the experiences regarding fishers’ rights noted that overall, there was a lack of a clear mechanism or platform for voicing the rights of small-scale fishers. It was noted that some organizations have been formed, such as Muungano wa Wavuvi wa Mwambao Tanzania, but these are area-specific and do not have a coordinated outreach for the coastal fishers in the country. In addition, community-based systems such as Beach Management Units (BMUs) or Village Liaison Committees (VLCs) have been formed, but the effectiveness of these structures is also area-specific, and their operations are sometimes challenged by lack of capacity, non-compliance or inability to stand for small-scale fishers’ rights.

Specifically, the following issues were mentioned:

Policy and legal issues   Interlinkages for management
  • Fishers do not have the absolute right of ownership of fishing grounds
  • Conversion of land areas to other uses such as
    tourist hotels is limiting the right of access of fishers
    to fishing grounds
  • Lack of participation of small-scale fishers in the
    coastal land-use planning processes is affecting
    small-scale fishers’ rights
  • Fisheries laws and policies are not commensurate
    with small-scale fisheries situations, and hence need
    to be reviewed
  • There is need to endorse BMU regulations
  • Poor linkages with the Meteorological Department deny fishers adequate information on the weather situation, making it difficult for them to prepare
    for disasters
  • Inadequate savings and credit facilities to satisfy and motivate fishers. These need to be upscaled
  • Low entrepreneurship skills for small-scale fishers
  • Poor dissemination or coordination of market information
Ecological, environmental issues   Health issues
  • Inadequate knowledge makes it challenging for communities to engage in sustainable management of resources (like mangroves, beaches and coral reefs)
  • Degradation of marine ecology from both climate change and anthropogenic factors
  • Rise in sea level and destruction of beaches related to climate change
  • Climate-change-related decline in seaweed production
  • Limited health services available for small-scale fishing communities (especially healthcare for women and children)
  • Inadequate knowledge of HIV/AIDS among small-scale fishers
Gender-related concerns   Small-scale fisheries management concerns
  • Women’s involvement in decision-making is low (only 30 per cent)
  • Women do not have adequate knowledge of the fisheries
  • Women in small-scale fishing communities are less educated (low schooling levels) compared to men
  • Tough competition for women from more able fishers and buyers
  • Women’s low engagement in the value chain is due to inadequate support and lack of capital
  • Gender-based violence is experienced throughout the value chain (in employment, business, etc.)
  • Few developed and equipped landing sites
  • Inadequate access to appropriate fishing tools or technologies, which affects more women and the youth
  • Permission for non-government actors to manage marine resources (for example, in creation of artificial reef structures)
  • Poor or lack of efficient tools, low-standard tools, gear and equipment, and lack of capital to invest in fishing and related activities

Prioritisation of issues

Each working group prioritized two actions as priority outcomes from the workshop and these were summarized under the major themes as follows:

i. Forming an umbrella national fishers’ organization starting at the village level

The responsibility of this national small-scale fishers’ organization will be to (a) mobilize and collect people’s views and increase their awareness and sensitization on key issues confronting small-scale fisheries; (b) unite groups that already exist; (c) provide advice and guidance; and (d) collaborate with the government and the village to develop a common goal. The organization will also have to develop a constitution.

ii. Encourage further formation of savings and credit groups

Forming savings and credit groups to promote the sensitization, mobilization and formation of a sound savings and credit system with reasonable reach among the small-scale fishing community, which will also be accessible and affordable. This will be done in cooperation with current leaders and advisers of VICOBA (Village Community Banks).

iii. Improve collaboration among, and between, fishing communities in the protection of landing sites

This proposal will include the formulation of a decision-making protocol for landing-site management. This protocol will involve the following:

a. preparation of bylaws and guidelines for (coastal) investors (in particular, tourism developers). These bylaws will be formulated through the sensitization of the small-scale fishing community at the village level;

b. allocation of roles and responsibilities;

c. consideration of gender equity;

d. encouraging increased hygiene at the landing sites by BMU and other stakeholders;

e. follow-up on security issues at landing sites;

f. follow-up on byelaw enforcement; and

g. improving women’s access to fish markets.

iv. Prepare a Social and Environmental Management Plan for small-scale fisheries. This plan will outline small-scale fisheries management aspects, disaster mitigation aspects, and information sharing and coordination among the different stakeholdersvillage-local government (district) and the central government. The plan will also outline mechanisms for improved communication and for technical/expert support on fisheries and the environment to small-scale fishing communities.

v. Prepare and enforce bylaws to help in the prevention of gender-based violence among small-scale fishing communities and across the value chain. The programme should include strategies to control HIV/AIDS transmission, as well as liaison with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to obtain appropriate guidelines.

In order to jump-start the process and to ensure its sustainability, the workshop facilitators agreed to proceed with the following steps:

  • forming a task force involving ICSF, MWAMBAO and the government
  • formulating an action plan as the Tanzanian chapter for the implementation of the SSF Guidelines, and
  • developing a monitoring plan with established indicators.

For more

Report of the Workshop to Introduce the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (VG-SSF) in Tanzania