Seven live turtles were found at Fogo Island in the hands of a group of fishermen. The turtles were all released and are now safely swimming in the Indian Ocean. The discovery happened during a recent trip with the administrators of the four districts covered by the PSEPA, Angoche, Moma, Larde and Pebane.
The turtles were found hidden under dry branches, ready to be killed. The poachers would have then smoked the meat and sell it. The administrators were clearly angry about the discovery and the leader of the poachers was apprehended and taken to Moma for questioning and conviction. After that, the seven turtles were taken by boat some kilometers off the island and were then released.
Poachers are believed to have their base in Fogo Island, off the coast of Larde, where they are taking advantage of the lack of law enforcement in the archipelago. Sea turtles are at high risk in the area because of opportunistic poachers that have found a market for the meat and their eggs, which are also taken from nests on the islands. Poachers first make sure that the turtle’s shells are well preserved, proceed to smoke the meat and then sell both in Angoche and Larde.
The 10 islands in the PSEPA are uninhabited. This factor and the lack of law enforcement officials, transportation for police officers and slim livelihood options for many of the fishermen are the main reason why the sea turtles are being targeted. Turtles in the Primeiras e Segundas archipelago have been poached for years. The Primeiras e Segundas program has fought this malpractice since the program started. At first, there were rangers in the islands catching poachers and raising awareness among fishermen of the importance of protecting species like turtles, seagulls and other protected species. Under Mozambican law, poachers can be charged with a 50,000 MTCs (about $1,600 USD) fine if they are found poaching sea turtles. Fishermen are taught through Community Based Natural Resource Management Committees (CBNRM) that turtles should be protected and that poaching turtles is a crime. Fishermen are also explained that turtles don’t reach their reproductive age until they are 20 or 30, and the difficulty turtles face at the early stages of their lives. If turtles are not poached, they can live more than 100 years and they could potentially be a big draw for tourism to the area, which would create more livelihood options.
In the end, the importance of protecting species like sea turtles was highlighted by this discovery of these poachers, and having the administrators as witnesses would likely lead to a stronger alliance between the government and the program. In the future, government partners will know the situation in the PSEPA and how important it is to ensure that the community is aware of the importance of protected species and monitoring their well being. As a result of this visit, administrators from all the districts in the PSEPA now have a better understanding of the biodiversity of the area and they saw first-hand the challenges of conservation.
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.
A congressional delegation and a group of four celebrity chefs visited the Primeiras e Segundas program to see first hand how CARE’s interventions in Mozambique are helping to ensure food and nutrition security by combating global hunger, malnutrition and stunting. The visit was part of the CARE Learning Tours, which hosts high-level delegations to see the impact of U.S. investments on the ground.
Renowned chefs Cat Cora, Carla Hall, Antonia Lofaso and CARE Chef Ambassador Spike Mendelsohn were the first to arrive in the Primeiras e Segundas Protected Area, visiting a community in the estuary where they cooked with local female leaders and went fishing with a group of fishermen. At Omuive, off the coast of Angoche, the chefs learned about the negative effects of overfishing and how it is affecting the growing population, whose diets rely heavily on fish because of the limited access to farmland in the estuary. They also got to witness the positive interventions of the program, visiting the replenished mangroves and gathering sea snails with Azaliha Amisse, a 62-year-old mother of 12. Due to overfishing, women are playing a very active role in providing for their families by getting crabs, snails and other species from the mangroves. For women in Mozambique, it is much harder to get enough food for their children, so women’s empowerment is essential to ending hunger and ensuring nutrition. One of the objectives of the visit was understanding the vulnerability of women in the face of changing weather patterns and unpredictable raining cycles.
The next day, the chefs met with the congressional delegation at the Farmer Field School (FFS) of Mussuceia. The group of Senate Agriculture Committee staffers and members of the U.S. Administration had first traveled to Djibouti, where the visit was focused on food-aid distribution and the pivotal role Djibouti plays as a port for food distribution in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Chad, Somalia and Djibouti itself. In Mozambique, the visit was focused on building up food security through expanding agricultural productivity. At the FFS, the delegation toured the different plots and saw experiments as the members of the community explained what they have learned through the program. They also saw the adoption of the techniques that farmers are learning in the field of Faida Delfim, a mother of 6 who lives with her granddaughter.
It is crucial to build the resilience and capacity of smallholder farmers, especially women. As the United States continues to be a leader in fighting global hunger, this capacity building needs to be expanded in order to guarantee food security to more than 795 million people who don’t have enough food to eat and the nearly 2 billion people who are malnourished. By meeting women farmers and leaders, the chefs and the congressional delegation now have clear faces to the numbers. Effective interventions that can improve agriculture systems are key. And now, when they hear about the 795 million people that don’t have enough food to eat, they will think of Faida Delfim and Azaliha Amisse and how they struggle every day to meet the needs of their families.
Overfishing is an enormous problem in Northern Mozambique. Millions of people living in the heavily populated coastal areas in Nampula province are seeing the amount of fish dwindling and their livelihood options becoming less secure. In an effort to mitigate this growing problem, Primeiras e Segundas pioneered the establishment of no-take zones in its protected area.
Tapua and Corane in Moma district were the first two no-take zones in Mozambique. When P&S started studying the area to establish them in 2010, the local government had a difficult time understanding fishing restrictions in an area where people’s livelihoods are greatly dependent on fishing. Now, the Ministry of Fisheries is leading efforts and scientific studies in Angoche district to establish new no-take zones, and other stakeholders are using Tapua and Corane as examples.
After the huge success of these two no-take zones in terms of specie variety, abundance and benefits to the community in the estuary, the no-take zones are not only attracting hordes of fishermen to the spillover zones but also some visitors wanting to follow the footsteps of P&S.
A multi-sector team including representatives from SNV, an international non-profit organization from the Netherlands working in Mozambique, Vale, a global mineral company based in Brazil, and five community leaders from Nacala Velha, a city in northern Nampula province, visited the two no-take zones to learn about the P&S program and establish no-take zones in their area.
First stop was Tapua, where the community leaders from Nacala Velha saw several people taking advantage of the spillover zones, which form the area around the no-take zones, allowing people to catch the abundant in fish that “spill over.” Amisse Amade and his son, Ali Amade, were two of the fishermen that were interviewed by the Nacala Velha community leaders. The discussion was about the benefits of the no-take zones and if they like the abundance of fish and crab in the spillover areas.
“At home [Nacala Velha] we never get crabs from the sea, we only get the one from the land and those bite,” said Jaime Ali, one of the community leaders. They also talked to one of the Tapua monitors, Seferino Amisse, who explained to them what he does once he finds people fishing within the limits of the no-take zones.
“If we find someone, we take him to the authorities and take his fishing tools,” Seferino Amisse explained to the visitors. He works as a volunteer without any monetary compensation for his work. He does this because he understands the benefits of his work for the community.
After the visit, Cremildo Armando, P&S’s Marine Natural Resources Manager, explained that sharing responsibilities is essential to the management of the no-take zones and other initiatives like mangrove replanting, which will also be an explored option for Nacala Velha.
“The community itself is already aware about the benefits of no-take zones. We can see that the monitors and the community leaders had to work hard to achieve this,” said Sajad Justino, who works as the Subsistence and Resource Restoration official for Vale.
Ensuring food security in the region is essential. In Nacala Velha, the second largest city in the province, this is of outmost importance to its more than 200,000 inhabitants. The private sector, other NGOs and the local leaders have now found an alternative to ensure specie variety and availability of fish – no-take zones. P&S paved the way for this initiative and now it is being replicated in other places in Mozambique.
During the first week of June, the CARE-WWF Alliance’s Program Primeiras and Segundas joined the local government celebrating the Environment’s Week, June 1st to the 5th when World Environment Day was celebrated worldwide. The activities were done in collaboration with the youth of Angoche, including students from four different high schools participating in an information session lead by Cremildo Armando, P&S’s Marine Natural Resources Manager. During this time, 70 students learned about the importance of mangroves, the dangers of using mosquito nets for fishing, the dangers facing sea turtles and the work done by P&S in the communities to raise environmental awareness.
After testing their understanding of the contents learned during the information session, eight students were selected to participate in a field trip with the P&S staff, two teachers and a representative from the government to visit Puga Puga Island and the community of Mitepene, where they talked to a member of the CBNRM (Community Based Natural Resource Management committee).
Before reaching the island, the students were shown the negative effects of climate change in the now uninhabited island of Buzi. When Jokwe Cyclone hit the area in 2008, the community was left unprotected from the strong winds and rains. All of the mangroves were gone and the population had to be moved to the continent. Now, only fishermen go there temporarily to find food. The island is not fit for human life anymore — after having been a thriving community.
In Puga Puga, the students were all eagerly looking for coral washed to the island and asking questions to Cremildo from P&S and to their Biology teacher, Manssur Sumalgy. As they looked through the pages of a guide of the different marine species of Southern Africa, they could also see live a lot of what they were learning. They even found the body of a dead turtle, which sparked a conversation about the importance of teaching people in the community to take care of these protected species.
“People in Angoche don’t have enough information. They don’t know the consequences of taking these protected species from the sea,” said Aminudine Momade from Angoche Secondary School.
After enjoying the seascape from one of the ten Primeiras and Segundas Islands, the next stop for the group was Mitepene. There, the students got a chance to speak their local language, Koti, with one of the members of the CBNRM. They asked him questions about how they spread the message of conservation to the rest of the community, how they replant mangroves, what’s the importance of replanting the mangroves and how the committee helps in case of disasters. Seeing the mangroves that the community planted was also a very special part of the visit, showing them that conservation is also in their own hands.
The last stop hit the students even closer to home. For some, it took them to their own neighborhood, Inguri, where Cremildo explained to them the dangers of climate change and how it could potentially affect them personally in the coming years. In this area, kilometers of houses are crammed right next to the sea with a boats parked right in front. This is a clear proof of how much the environment and the people are intertwined — and of the imminent dangers of climate change. With sea levels rising globally, the division between the land and the sea is decreasing every year. In Inguri, the population lives right at sea level, which is very dangerous for the people living there because they have no natural protection to erosion after the mangroves in the area were all taken down for wood.
At the end of the visits, the students were assigned homework. How can they use the knowledge gained today in order to help preserve the environment?
“We can’t let this generation go on without environmental conservation information,” said Cremildo Armando.