Our Sea Our Life

Mozambique beach

Co-management of artisanal fisheries in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique


Overfishing, unsustainable fishing practices and growing populations in coastal areas have taken their toll on marine resources in Cabo Delgado, north of Mozambique. But marine resources are critical to coastal communities.

The Our Sea Our Life project works with six vulnerable communities to manage local fisheries. The goal is to improve the resilience of coastal ecosystems and community well-being by creating community fishers councils for the management of 500ha of marine areas, developing sustainable financing mechanisms and supporting Village Savings and Loan Associations to invest in alternative small-scale businesses and secure a diversity of income.

Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) are an extremely successful element of Our Sea Our Life. Currently, over 466 households (of which more than 50% are women) are enrolled in 23 VSLAs, benefiting around 3,000 people in the six pilot villages.

Women and men often have defined and differing roles in small scale fishing communities. We recognise to implement a truly effective, sustainable and scalable model we need to identify opportunities to create strategies to involve women in discussions and the decision making process. Research from the development sector shows that improving the well-being of women is one of the most effective tools to bring about significant change when working with traditional impoverished communities.

Watch this short video on the gender equity elements of the project, prepared by and shown at the European Development Days (EDD) event, in June 2018.

Our Sea Our Life is coordinated by the Zoological Society of London in collaboration with AMA, CORDIO East Africa, FCSH-NOVA, and UniLúrio.

Why we are there

Marine resources are threatened by:

  • Rapid changes resulting from growing human populations
  • Climate change impacts
  • Increasing linkages to markets for marine products
  • Illegal and foreign commercial fishing fleets
  • Inmigrant and immigrant fishers moving away from depleted stocks
  • High-end tourism developments that are often poorly integrated with local communities and often restrict access to marine resources
  • Most recently the planned exploitation and refining of huge natural gas reserves that are expected to account for 13% of the national economy within the next five years. These changes leave local populations increasingly vulnerable.

Our Sea Our Life supports community-run marine areas covering a total of 500ha in six coastal communities between the Rovuma River and Moçimboa da Praia. It contributes directly to biodiversity conservation by taking a species-specific approach.

Declines in biomass of species of conservation concern (e.g. the Endangered Napoleon wrasse and Threatened sharks, IUCN 2012) and important functional groups (e.g. herbivores) are to be stabilised. Declines in the health and cover of the most important and vulnerable marine habitats - reef-building corals, mangroves and seagrasses – are to be halted.

These actions reduce pressure on coastal marine ecosystems, increase resilience to climate change and improve food security.

Listen to this podcast, recorded during a field expedition to Mozambique in 2015, to learn more about the problems facing fishing communities in northern Mozambique and the work that Our Sea Our Life is doing to improve the marine environment and the livelihoods of the local people. 

Key achievements and goals

Our Sea Our Life develops sustainable mechanisms to finance the management by the community fishers councils of six marine areas and covering a total of 500 ha between the Rovuma River and Mocimboa da Praia.

A continuous participatory work with six coastal communities defines incentives specific to each community to bridge the short-term opportunity costs of conservation. Village Savings and Loan Associations encourage members to invest in alternative small-scale businesses to diversify their income. The project Our Sea Our Life alleviates the pressure on marine resources and secures the livelihood of 7,300 beneficiaries. 

Find out more

Read our blog posts about Our Sea Our Life:

Have a look at the latest Our Sea Our Life newsletter:

PDF icon Our Sea Our Life Newsletter 2016 (685.75 KB)

PDF icon Our Sea Our Life Newsletter 2015 (786.83 KB)

PDF icon Our Sea Our Life Newsletter 2015 (786.83 KB)

Watch this short video on the science components of the project, prepared for and shown at the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) symposium in October 2015.

Project information


Annexes available here


    People involved

    Jeremy Huet is the Our Sea Our Life Project Manager

    Ana Pinto is the Outreach Specialist

    Eleanor Harvie is the Africa Programme Lead

    Rebecca Sennett Day is the Deputy Programme Manager, Africa

    Hannah Klair is the Africa Programme Assistant


    Partners and funders


    This project is funded by:

    News and blog links

    Keep up to date with our blog and follow us on Twitter 




    Annexes - English and Portuguese


    Annexes - English


    Annexes - Portuguese