Opening up a conservation dialogue with government officials
Government representatives from the four districts covered by the PSEPA were invited by the CARE-WWF Alliance to visit eight of the ten islands in the archipelago, so they could appreciate the biodiversity in the PSEPA, identifying the challenges of natural resource management and coming up with solutions to jointly address these challenges.
Some of the conservation challenges identified by the government officials were the lack of law enforcement agents on the ground, lack of transportation to reach the islands and few alternative livelihoods for families living along the coast increasing pressure on fishing. During the visit, the officials found a group of poachers with seven live turtles ready to be killed. This discovery emphasized the need of law enforcement and monitoring of the Primeiras e Segundas islands in order to guarantee the survival of species such as sea turtles and seagulls.
The solutions to these problems proposed during the visit were expanding community awareness campaigns, encouraging routine patrols in the PSEPA, and a joint law enforcement approach by the government and stakeholders in Angoche, Larde, Moma and Pebane. Government officials also highlighted the importance of expanding the community management of natural resources, which is already one of the interventions in the area. There are 13 Community Based Natural Resource Management Committees (CBNRM), with 6 new committees expected to be trained, in the Angoche estuary; and there are 21 CBNRMs in the Moma estuary. The members of the CBNRMs are trained on the importance of protecting endangered species, protecting mangroves and avoiding the use of harmful fishing practices, such as using mosquito nets to fish.
The government officials also discussed the importance of the management plan for the PSEPA that was already drafted by outside consultants and presented to the Mozambican government for approval during the next session. Some of the details of the management plan were discussed; these include yearlong monitoring of the islands and the ban on drag net fishing in some areas of the archipelago. The officials welcomed these restrictions as long as livelihood alternatives, such as agriculture, are also presented to the artisanal fishermen.
Alternatives are already being presented to the fishermen in the region, who are all encouraged to be part of the Farmer Field Schools and other associations, guaranteeing that their livelihoods are diversified, making them more resilient in case of disasters and ensuring that women are also provided with livelihood options.
In the end, the administrators and the other government partners are essential to the sustainability of the project. For this reason, it is essential for them to witness the situation in the PSEPA. After the visit, a dialogue was initiated to intervene in environmental protection, and the course of action that the government needs to take to guarantee the biodiversity present in their own districts, which in turn sustains the livelihoods of a growing number of their own constituents.