From Farming to Fishing: Marine Resource Conservation and a New Generation of Fishermen

  • N Versleijen
  • J Hoorweg
Keywords: Artisanal fishers, household survey, income diversification, marine conservation, Kenya


This paper examines the arrival of a new group of fishermen on the Kenyan coast
and what this has meant for the state of fishery resources. It reviews four subject areas: access
and the number of fishermen; the fishermen’s identity; the choice of fishing gear; and the fishing
grounds selected. Data were collected from a small number of fishing households in the villages
of Uyombo and Takaungu in Kilifi District, using mainly qualitative research methods. Local
households on the Kenyan coast face increasing pressure on land as well as on marine resources.
The declining economic situation and greater pressure on land have made people turn to fishing
as an income-generating activity. This group of fishermen is referred to as the ‘new’ generation
of fishermen as they have been involved in fishing for only one or two generations (including the
current one) in contrast to the ‘old’ generation from families who have been fishing or in fishingrelated
activities for much longer. The old generation of fishermen and their households have also
diversified their incomes, with many fishing households turning to farming, for example, with
women and grown-up children involved in various activities. The new generation of fishermen,
mainly of the Mijikenda population group, has often been blamed for the loss of traditional
access regulations and for using harmful fishing gear. This paper discusses the new generation
of fishermen and their identity as they perceive it and relates this to employment generation as a
policy measure for marine conservation.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0856-860X
print ISSN: 0856-860X