Re-opening of the temporary marine reserve in Nsangue Ponta

by ZSL on

Ana Pinto, from the Conservation Programmes team at ZSL, shares recent exciting news from the Our Sea Our Life (OSOL) project: the re-opening of the second community-managed temporary reserve in Nsangue Ponta village in Cabo Delgado. 

Nsangue-Ponta temporary reserve opening
Nsangue-Ponta temporary reserve opening

Following the success of the first temporary reserve opening in March 2016 further North in Cabo Delgado at Quiwia village, where the equivalent of a normal 15-day fishing period was landed in one single day, the model has now been successfully replicated at Nsangue Ponta. 

Temporary reserves have proven to be an effective method of replenishing dwindling populations of fish, resulting in increased catches and incomes among coastal communities. This concept was vital in the decision-making process of the population of Nsangue Ponta. Through the co-management plan with the CCP (Community Fishers Council), the community at Nsangue Ponta defined and actively enforced their temporary closed area and ‘replenishment zone’, a total area of 200ha. With the full support of local authorities, the replenishment zone was closed off for six months and the anticipated opening at Nsangue Ponta had finally arrived! 

The Opening Ceremony

Staff from Pemba-based OSOL project partner AMA (Associação do Meio Ambiente), were also on site for the celebrations and to provide support. Jamen, Saide and Mario were ready to help to monitor catches and get feedback from the community during this exciting event!

The day had come and the opening ceremony was ready to go ahead! The excitement is clear throughout the ceremony, however weather conditions proved so challenging (windy and rainy) that the fishers and the CCP decided to postpone the fishing until the next day.

Temporary reserve Opening Ceremony at Nsangue Ponta
Temporary reserve Opening Ceremony at Nsangue Ponta

The fishing begins!

Weather conditions finally allow for the fishing to commence, the community can finally see the fruits of their patience! The weather is glorious and the fish are plentiful. Although octopus is a far less important resource for Nsangue Ponta than for other communities, it proved to be a desired target at the opening, when the fishers could see the increase in size as a result of the temporary closure. It is only the start, but already the AMA team on the ground report a successful reserve and a worthwhile contribution of the CCP. The total catch for the first day was 1042.9kg ! 

As the week progressed, the fishers of Nsangue Ponta, including women, were seen searching through the reserve using traditional fishing methods (such as spear fishing and hand line) and returning with high catches and large octopus! The fishing continued for while the reserve remained open for one week, before closing again.

Price Premium for fishers

The temporary closure yields the anticipated increased catches, and they act as a way to increase economic return from this resource. This increased catch and its higher quality (bigger fish and octopus) enable a price premium for the fishers, who can guarantee selling their catch above the market price. This scheme encourages fishers to demonstrate a commitment to sustainable fishing practice, by collaborating with the CCP on management approaches such as temporarily reserves or ‘replenishment zones’ and waiting to catch the octopus and fish at a larger size and in increased quantities, which then allows for a higher price for their catch. 

Excited about the higher return, buyers were seen starting to log their purchases (the catch) to take over to Mocimboa da Praia to sell on. 

Local business ‘Diamante Mariscos’ purchased 33kg of squid and 86.5kg of fish, adding to an increase of the village’s income following this temporary closure and highlighting the economic benefits of this type of approach in their locally managed marine areas (LMMAs). 

Arrival of the Administrator from Palma; representatives of SDAE and MP administration for the Opening Ceremony
Arrival of the Administrator from Palma; representatives of SDAE and MP administration for the Opening Ceremony

The AMA team reported how well received the opening was for all members of the community. Saide Junior, AMA, reported that the ‘fishers themselves are the ones seeing the benefits- they are saying it’s worth it’. 

Temporary closures have proven to play an important functional and economic role, providing opportunities for lump sums of cash, which are often missing within coastal communities of northern Mozambique. The experience of the previous temporary reserve at Quiwia, helped ensure the success of this replication, with the methodology established to minimise loss, and maximise sale. The Nsangue Ponta temporary reserve was a local success and will help to the CCPs and other communities in future replications, further contributing to the OSOL’s main aim of enhancing socio-ecological resilience in coastal Mozambique, whilst creating incentives for conservation.  Our work with local communities to become more engaged with broader marine protection actions will hopefully be reinforced by experiencing the economic benefits of temporary reserves such as this one!

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