Whilst base-line socio-economic data is limited, it is estimated that almost 50% of the population in Tanzania are poor, represented primarily by those living in rural areas and includes those involved in small-scale fisheries. Data on the status of the inshore fisheries in Tanzania is scarce and there are many problems interpreting what historical and current data does exist. There is a common theme to the majority of investigations into the status of these fisheries, indicating that it is under stress, with resources threatened by destructive fishing methods and over-fishing. However, previous projects under the Fisheries Management Science Programme, R4777 and R8249, have indicated that implementation of FADs represent a potential tool for diversifying fishing opportunities for artisanal fishers in East Africa.
The project aimed to explore and develop offshore fisheries resources using local vessels with expert training, by establishing and testing six FADs at two locations over a 12 month period, focusing on pelagic fisheries resources (e.g. tuna) known to be attracted to the devices. Direct technical support and offshore fisheries training was provided to poor fishers to enable them to expand their operations away from over-fished near-shore grounds. In addition, by providing the FAD gear, undertaking trials to identify the optimum fishing gear configurations and post-harvest treatment, and by identifying suitable marketing chains, the project accepted much of the financial risk that can constrain fisheries development in developing countries.
After FAD deployment in April 2004, it was discovered that the original SPC Indian Ocean FAD design was unsuitable for conditions off Tanzania. The compressible purse seine floats failed to withstand the seasonal coastal currents, and collapsed through loss of surface buoyancy causing the FAD to sink. A new FAD design was therefore developed for re-deployment in March 2005, but the time remaining for project activities was effectively reduced to 7 months.
Despite delays caused by FAD design alterations and adverse weather conditions, experiences gained from the two deployments and limited fishing and FAD monitoring at the two sites nevertheless provided valuable lessons and insights into the offshore fishery for large pelagic species and deep-water benthic species (see Final Technical Report for details).
Skills within the national fisheries institutions (Mbegani Fisheries Development Centre (MFDC) and Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources (DFMR) (Zanzibar)) were also diversified and improved through experience gained from involvement with the project, firstly through direct involvement with FAD construction and deployment and secondly through fishing training. On Zanzibar, DFMR staff were active in the distribution of a Swahili flyer and in procurement of bait, gears, fuel, arrangements with fishers and numerous aspects of the trials.
In terms of wider national and international promotion of FAD fisheries, the project contributed a section to the Fisheries Observer Handbook (SADC-EU MCS, 2005) and also to a FADs Theme sheet Managing Marine Protected Areas - A Toolkit for the Western Indian Ocean (IUCN, 2004).