Challenges to Managing Fisheries with High Inter-Community Variability on the Kenya-Tanzania Border

a screenshot of the cover of the journal Current Research in Environmental Sustainability
The peer-reviewed journal article is in Current Research in Environmental Sustainability.

Authors: Tim R. McClanahan, R.M. Oddenyo, and Jesse K. Kosgei


Reconciling variable between-community and neighboring country goals is the focus of the United Nations partnership goals (Sustainable Development Goal 17) because of the challenges of managing shared common-pool resources, such as fisheries. Our objective was to better understand and suggest management that accounts for this variability among fishing villages along the Kenya-Tanzania national boundary. We asked stakeholders to scale their dependency on fish, objective knowledge of fisheries, governance effectiveness, management preferences, and future fisheries provisioning scenarios among villages economically aligned with international trade or national park conservation. We found high dependency on fish (90% daily consumption), modest objective knowledge about fisheries and their status (62% correct answers) but a broad agreement on the need for community engagement (>90% agreement). The perceived weakest governance principles were fisheries monitoring and the resolution of conflicts with neighbors. Considerable variability in opinions about how to provide more fish reflected the international boundary trade and conservation contexts. Rural households further from the border favored community management and local or national fisheries closure management whereas stakeholder preferences with more urban and public were associated with greater support for offshore fishing and port and aquaculture infrastructure developments. Previously measured losses of fisheries catch production in most villages was hidden from stakeholders by a lack of catch monitoring and production potential estimates. Lost fisheries production and sustainability could be recovered by increased knowledge of resource production capacity, monitoring, and governance engagement that increases compliance. Village level economics and transnational contexts require multilevel governance and good coordination to manage the diverse capacities, preferences, and management needs.

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Published March 6, 2024