While working for Frontier Tanzania in the late 1990s I saw firsthand the devastating impact dynamite fishing had on coral reefs, the lives of the fishermen, and fish abundance in southern Tanzania. As an Asistant Marine Reserach Coordinator, I collected baseline data on the levels of biodiversity and habitat destruction using various marine survey techniques. The data collected was used to propose and finally lead to the opening-up of Mnazi Bay Marine Park in Luvura, Msimbati, Mtwara.
During my time with Frontier-Tanzania, together with Dr. Vicki Howe, Dr. Jean Luc Solandt, Dr. Jennie Mallela, Simon, Ian, Paul and many groups of research assistants from across the globe–we organized and facilitated a marine environmental education program for 12 primary schools 2 secondary schools and 1 teachers college on marine resources and conservation methods that included 365 students and 76 teachers.
In addition, we organized and facilitated a marine environmental education program for 19 local fishermen and 2 fisheries officers on marine resources and conservation, coastal zone management, power boat handling, and the collection and handling of fisheries data.
Furthermore, we developed the first bilingual (Swahili and English) environmental education teaching and learning manual for secondary schools. The teaching and learning manual hard information on coral reefs, mangroves, and sea grasses. The manual was intended to spear-head marine and environmental awareness in the coast areas of Tanzania.
The program target was environmental awareness to children who were more likely to become fishermen when they grew up. It helped the coastal resources users to understand why destructive fishing methods such as dynamite fishing are not good for the environment and to themselves. It also provided experiential learning and teaching materials to teachers and fisheries officers. The hope was that these efforts could be replicated elsewhere in the coastal communities.
It is very disheartening to hear that after all efforts and money from various donors and commitment from various organizations (Tanzania Coastal Management Partnership and the like) that dynamite fishing has returned to Tanzania with a vengeance.
To read more about dynamite fishing in Tanzania, click here.