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Patrolling The Bay In Mafia Island Marine  Park

Our day starts with getting up at roughly 05:30. After getting our gear ready (notepad, binoculars, phones) we walk down to Big Blu to meet with a member of the marine park team and the boat captain. Once we have checked the boat is ready to go (fuel, lifejackets etc.) we head out into the bay, usually shortly after 06:00.

Our primary task is to approach the fisherman and check that they have the right permits allowing them to fish in the bay. This needs to be done because there is a problem with illegal fishing. They do this by using incorrect equipment and/or techniques. This is a big problem for Mafia island because fishing is such an integral part of the economy here and fishing illegally is unsustainable. It also significantly affects the marine life and ecosystem in a negative way which must stop.

We slowly move all around the bay and when we see a boat or canoe we head over to them. The marine park representative talks to the fisherman/men and asks to see their identification and permits, as well as checking their equipment is correct and legal. Illegal equipment includes nets with gaps smaller than 2.5mm (as this catches the smaller juvenile fish), ring nets, drag nets, cyanide, and dynamite. The fishermen are informed about why we are patrolling and are asked to cooperate and inform the marine park about any information they may have regarding illegal fishing going forward. Our job with Frontier is to take a picture of their paperwork and take note of their names so that we can build a database of all the fishermen known to the area. If the fishermen do not have the correct paperwork or have left it at home we take their names, tell them to immediately stop fishing and return home, and to make sure they have the correct permit next time we see them. If their equipment is not within the legal requirements, we contact the marine park and they send out another boat to confiscate it.

At around midday we head back to the beach for a break and a switch of shift. The marine park representative also goes out for the afternoon whereas another Frontier volunteer takes over for the second shift. The same protocol is followed from around 13:00 until 18:30. We do this every day, seven days a week to ensure that fishing on Mafia island is carried out in a correct, legal, and sustainable manner.

By Demi Mills - Tanzania Principle Investigator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Tanzania.

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