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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Ecology - Science Policy

Mobility, Expansion and Management of a Multi-Species Scuba Diving Fishery in East Africa
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Author: Hampus Eriksson et al.

by Hampus Eriksson, Maricela de la Torre-Castro, Per Olsson

Background

Scuba diving fishing, predominantly targeting sea cucumbers, has been documented to occur in an uncontrolled manner in the Western Indian Ocean and in other tropical regions. Although this type of fishing generally indicates a destructive activity, little attention has been directed towards this category of fishery, a major knowledge gap and barrier to management.

Methodology and Principal Findings

With the aim to capture geographic scales, fishing processes and social aspects the scuba diving fishery that operate out of Zanzibar was studied using interviews, discussions, participant observations and catch monitoring. The diving fishery was resilient to resource declines and had expanded to new species, new depths and new fishing grounds, sometimes operating approximately 250 km away from Zanzibar at depths down to 50 meters, as a result of depleted easy-access stock. The diving operations were embedded in a regional and global trade network, and its actors operated in a roving manner on multiple spatial levels, taking advantage of unfair patron-client relationships and of the insufficient management in Zanzibar.

Conclusions and Significance

This study illustrates that roving dynamics in fisheries, which have been predominantly addressed on a global scale, also take place at a considerably smaller spatial scale. Importantly, while proposed management of the sea cucumber fishery is often generic to a simplified fishery situation, this study illustrates a multifaceted fishery with diverse management requirements. The documented spatial scales and processes in the scuba diving fishery emphasize the need for increased regional governance partnerships to implement management that fit the spatial scales and processes of the operation.

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