Notes from the Field: Pemba Channel Conservation Area, September 2020

September 17, 2020; By Molly Shane, Marine Program Coordinator

Since our inception, WildAid Marine has understood the power of strong partnerships. Our success in strengthening marine enforcement and improving marine protected area effectiveness around the world rests on the success of our partnerships. At every site where we work, we focus on identifying the right local partners and empowering them, through extensive training and mentorship, to sustainably manage their marine resources.

While so much has changed this year, our emphasis on strong partnerships remains constant. In-country visits have been replaced with virtual meetings, remote training, and long-distance support. Remote training and mentorship are more valuable than ever as our partners around the world navigate the many new challenges posed by COVID-19, including the disappearance of tourism, economic slow-downs, changing fishing behavior, and more.

Throughout the year, WildAid Marine has continued to work closely with the Zanzibar Department of Fisheries Development (DFD) and Marine and Coastal Community Conservation Zanzibar (MCCC Ltd), formerly Mwambao Coastal Community Network, to improve marine enforcement in the Pemba Channel Conservation Area (PECCA). PECCA is one of the largest protected areas off the coast of East Africa, boasting some of the region’s deepest coral reefs, high levels of biodiversity, and numerous IUCN red-listed species. The rich marine environment around Pemba Island also holds immense cultural and economic importance for the more than 400,000 people who live on the island.

The protection of PECCA draws upon management efforts from DFD and Shehia Fisher Committees (SFCs), community-based institutions empowered to develop and enforce rules governing the use of community fishing grounds. Historically, limited staff and resources have meant that DFD and SFCs have a limited on-the-ground presence throughout the area and are not always able to respond effectively to illegal fishing incidents.

In September 2020, the WildAid Marine team successfully conducted a remote training on patrol techniques for our partners in Tanzania. Senior enforcement representatives from DFD and MCCC attended the remote “train-the-trainer” course that took place over two days. WildAid Marine utilized the online video-conferencing platform Zoom to share best practices and facilitate discussions around patrolling techniques.

As a next step, DFD and MCCC will use WildAid Marine’s course, coupled with a training manual and a set of patrol aids/standard operating procedures, to provide training directly to the PECCA Rangers and SFCs. For many of these individuals, this will be the first time they have received formal compliance and enforcement training. This training, coupled with the purchase of two new patrol vessels, will enhance enforcement capacity in PECCA and will serve as a first step in helping to address the threat of illegal fishing in the region.

WildAid Marine is proud to support DFD, in partnership with MCCC, to develop a foundational framework for enhanced effectiveness and safety during both land and marine patrols. When travel conditions permit, WildAid Marine looks forward to continuing the development of patrol policies and procedures in collaboration with local communities and Rangers trained by DFD and MCCC.