Hungry for Biodiversity: Marine measures for Mozambique


In our second blog post of the series, we hear from a project promoting sustainable fishing in the province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. Local communities have played a paramount role in securing fisheries through local management.

If you would like to read the first blog of the series, featuring a project working to improve food security for communities living in the buffer zone of the Dja Faunal Reserve in Cameroon, please click here.

Safeguarding marine biodiversity and food security through community-based action in Mozambique

Coastal communities in the province of Cabo Delgado are among the poorest in Mozambique and are highly dependent on marine resources. The diverse marine habitats in Cabo Delgado have historically been some of the least exploited in East Africa, however fish stocks are becoming increasingly depleted. Growing pressures, including local population growth, coastal migration, conflict and threats from gas and oil exploration, are further driving food insecurity and poverty in these communities. Fisheries are one of the main sources of livelihood in Cabo Delgado, having some of the highest numbers of artisanal fishers and fishing centres in the country. Fish are vital for food and nutritional security, through direct consumption as well as indirectly, as a source of income to buy other food items.

The Our Sea Our Life (OSOL) programme has developed and piloted a pro-poor model for Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) in northern Mozambique, that aims to tackle the fundamental drivers of poverty and food security amongst fishing communities. LMMAs are areas managed by local communities to improve fisheries and conserve marine biodiversity. While community-led marine management is not new in Mozambique or the Western Indian Ocean region, the interconnection of three critical elements to successful marine co-management make the OSOL approach unique and innovative:

  1. the LMMAs
  2. local governance and management mechanisms
  3. and sustainable livelihoods and financing.

OSOL’s participatory approach empowers communities to deliver objectives they help to set. It brings together these established platforms, for equitable and inclusive governance of resources, while generating alternative income and strengthening and securing food and nutritional security.

Our Sea Our Life led horticultural activities in Mecufi, Credit – AMA

One of the main outputs from phase 1 of the OSOL programme was to develop a best practice guide based on experiences and lessons learnt from the model, drawing on the valuable experience of each of the partners in the consortium (led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) with partners Associação do Meio Ambiente (AMA), UniLúrio, CORDIO East Africa, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa; and Universidade de Aveiro). The project team have recently launched the ‘Toolkit for LMMA establishment: A case study of Our Sea Our Life’s approach to community-based marine conservation in northern Mozambique’! The toolkit is available in both Portuguese and English and can be found here.

ZSL Our Sea Our Life LMMA Toolkit, Credit – Mike Riddell

Replicating this model will enable the connection between marine conservation interventions with community needs for basic financial services, by scaling up VSLAs that will work to empower community members to diversify their livelihood options, increasing social resilience and food security. Since its start in 2013, with support from the Darwin Initiative, the programme has established 60km2 of protected areas, supported the creation of over 40 VSLAs (linked to bivalve aquaculture and horticulture activities) benefiting over 6,000 people in northern Mozambique alone. The aim is to reach thousands more people along the coast, with local communities at the heart of marine resource management.

For more information on project 25-024 led by ZSL working in can be found here. The full article for this project and others featured in the December 2020 edition of the newsletter is available here.

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