Our Sea Our Life

Mozambique beach

Co-management of artisanal fisheries in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique


Climate change, 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, using nature-based solutions. The goal is to improve the resilience of coastal ecosystems and community well-being by creating community fishers councils for the management 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. 

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 in coastal communities in Cabo Delgado. 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 in Northern Mozambique.

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 local livelihoods. 

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

    Rebecca Sennett Day is the Deputy Programme Manager, Africa

    Hannah Klair is the Conservation Programme Coordinator


    Partners and funders


    This project is funded by:

    News and blog links

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


    Improvement of the management and governance of two Locally Managed Marine Areas in northern Mozambique 


    What are we doing? 

    Since 2019, ZSL has been supporting the creation of two Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) in Bandar and Mecufi (southern Cabo Delgado province) which are now fully operational. Besides the socioeconomic and ecological assessments undertaken early 2019 to design the co-management measures, no further assessments have been carried out since their inception, to determine the management effectiveness of the LMMA model or the governance of the two LMMAs. 

    Having been operating for two years, we are at a critical junction in the operations of the LMMA to determine if the current co-management practices deliver the social and environmental goals laid out in the LMMA co-management plan. A new community-based approach to protected areas, LMMAs have recently been legally recognised in Mozambican law (Regulamento da Pesca Maritima, Decreto n.° 89/2020), so the results of this assessment will provide evidence to inform not only improvements in management effectiveness and governance of the LMMAs but inform the emerging policies and community of practice of LMMAs more broadly.  

    Equipment for Establishing Locally Managed Marine Areas

    By assessing the effectiveness of the co-management measures and the quality of governance using IMET and SAGE diagnostics, we will be utilising tools and methods already employed in Mozambique’s terrestrial PAs, facilitating much needed synergies between community-led and government-led PA efforts in Mozambique. These assessments will result in clear result-oriented recommendations especially (i) to improve the definition of the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in LMMA enforcement, (ii) for vulnerable community members to access sustainable livelihoods, (iii) to build local capacity in mangrove rehabilitation and (iv) to engage community members in socioeconomic and biological monitoring. The implementation of these recommendations will enhance the effectiveness of the two LMMAs in order to ensure conservation targets are achieved while ensuring environmental and social risks are mitigated and any emerging risks identified. 

    As a result, BIOPAMA STGA will contribute to develop a model of assessment of LMMAs together with the Provincial Direction of Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries (DPMAIP) who support our work through a MoU (with Ama). This model will provide support to DPMAIP to report the LMMAs performance to both national and international levels, which will be scaled across the emerging LMMA network in Mozambique, and to CBD against conservation targets of the National Strategy and Action Plan of Biological Diversity of Mozambique (NBSAP – 2015/35) and help DPMAIP take the necessary actions to improve LMMAs efficiency and governance. 

    Sustainable Fishing in a Locally Managed Marine Area


    We aim to develop result-oriented priority actions (i) to improve the definition of the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in LMMA enforcement (because of the risk due to restricting access to resources then priority actions will include mitigation measures regarding potential impacts on livelihoods for the communities), (ii) for vulnerable community members to access sustainable livelihoods (because of the risk due to gender-related inequalities, priority actions will include mitigation measures regarding our gender-based approach), (iii) to build local capacity in mangrove rehabilitation (because of the risk due to mangrove plantation, priority actions will include mitigation measures regarding the introduction of trees sourced in other areas to manage the spread of disease) and (iv) to engage community members in socioeconomic and biological monitoring.  



    BIOPAMA logo


    Locally-Managed Marine Areas in Bandar (Metuge District) and Mecufi (Mecufi District) in Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique 


    People involved  

    Jeremy Huet, Project Manager 

    Ana Pinto, Outreach Specialist  

    Hannah Klair, Conservation Programme Coordinator 


    Partners and Sponsors: 

    With thanks to the support of the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States through the BIOPAMA Programme. 


    ZSL works in partnership with: 

    AMA (Associação do Meio Ambiente) https://ama-amigosdaterra.org/  




    Annexes - English and Portuguese


    Annexes - English


    Annexes - Portuguese