Fishers’ livelihoods dynamics in the wake of declining fisheries in Lake Victoria, Tanzania: lessons from Bwiro, Mazinga and Lukuba Islands
This study sought to establish the livelihood dynamics of fishing communities amid declining fisheries resources in Lake Victoria, Tanzania. Data were collected from 246 respondents using interviews, focus group discussions and observations. The collected data were both qualitative and quantitative. It was found that the decline of fisheries resources in a selected number of islands in Lake Victoria has led to those islands’ fishers’ communities devising a range of alternative strategies for their livelihoods that included but not confined to investing in heavy and modern fishing machinery, unscrupulous fishing practices and migration. Factors such as age, education level, gender and origin of fishers influenced fishers’ choices for particular strategies. Efforts to help in revamping the fisheries sector have been instituted, including the beach management units (BMUs) whose major mandate is to deter unscrupulous fishing practices. This article recommends that measures such as closed fishing season, prevention of unscrupulous fishing practices, and restricted fishing access should be tightened and enforced so as to safeguard the Lake Victoria fisheries resources. On the other hand, the fishing communities should venture into other income generating activities such as aquaculture and farming so as to alleviate the pressure on the fishery ecology and facilitate the resilience of the Lake Victoria’s fishers’ communities.
Keywords: Fishery resource, livelihoods strategies, fishing communities