Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries

Entry Overview

KAWAWANA—a real Community Conserved Area in the coastal and marine environment of Casamance
Entrant Image: 
Fishermen Association of the Rural Municipality of Mangagoulack
Describe the problem: 

“Kawawana” refers to the Djola expression Kapooye Wafolal Wata Nanang (“Our patrimony, for us all to preserve”). Its story begins when the fishermen of eight villages in Casamance decided they would no longer remain idle as their fish catch was worsening in quantity and quality because of the indiscriminate fishing allowed in their local ecosystem. They established Kawawana as their Community Conserved Area, developed a management plan and implemented it. Their rules are adapted to the environment and fish species they wish to re-establish and to the society that has to respect them. Through a feat of diplomacy they obtained an improbable government approval. Their initiative is working beautifully: local diet and income are improving and other communities ask for help to replicate it!

Biodiversity Impact: 
The process of organizing for the Community Conserved Area took years, and several intermediary solutions were attempted along the way, including planting mangroves or sequestering and burning monofilament nets (cheap, easily disregarded, remain in the environment for years as destructive traps for fish). These attempts at rehabilitating fisheries had limited results. Then, at the end of 2008, the fishermen decided to establish their Kawawana, a decision that proved quite natural… The difficulties came in the relationship with the government, which required much patient diplomacy by the leaders of the association. First, they managed to get their Rural Municipality to endorse Kawawana on the basis of the Decentralization Law, which assigns to them authority and responsibility over natural resources in terrestrial environments. The application of the Decentralization Law to the coastal environment was controversial, but it could be argued for, and finally proved acceptable. Secondly, in June 2010, after extensive discussions, provision of documents and lobbying, Kawawana was also endorsed by the Regional Council and Governor of Casamance. The fishermen could proudly hold in their hands their official papers! Now the fishermen association also runs its surveillance system. The rules are enforced by sanctions that are very severe and encourage compliance. The local fishermen can also stop and apprehend the violators, a process agreed and regulated by the governmental fishery agency, which provided the fishermen with some training and a sort of para-legal status.
Human Well Being and Livelihood Impact: 
The most immediate benefit of Kawawana is the improved local fish catch, which translates into better diet, with fish of better quantity and quality regularly available to local families. This represents a remarkable achievement, as fish is the primary source of proteins for more than 10,000 local residents. Some people say that the« good life is back » and some fishermen say that they have doubled their catch since the creation of Kawawana. [The scientific monitoring run by the fishermen also shows a doubling of the baseline catch and exceptional improvements in fish biodiversity]. Among the desired benefits identified by the general assemblies that validated Kawawana is an improved sense of local collaboration, solidarity, and engagement for the environment and other common benefits. This is now revealed by the volunteer work of the fishermen, who even fish collectively once a month to be able to pay the fuel for Kawawana’s surveillance boat. The local women have also organized. The shellfish collectors association also established its collective rules (e.g. a yearly repose period of at least three months in which no shellfish is collected) on the basis of the customary rules that had been traditionally well respected but were falling into disuse because of the influence of migrants, the market economy, etc. Despite local benefits, however, the most important long-term result of Kawawana is likely to be the restitution of collective fishing rights (and responsibility) to its local communities—an inspiration for the country and the whole region. // The management plan is very simple, and based on a strict observance of the rules in the 3 main zones of Kawawana. Surveillance is regular but also extemporary. All the zones have been clearly marked with modern signposts, but also with fetishes set in place by elder women. The governance system has the Fishermen Association at its core, in close collaboration with the Rural Municipality and the government fishery agency. Five specific organs exist: 1. the General Assembly of the Fishermen Association ; 2. the Bureau of the Association; 3. the Council of the Rural Municipality ; 4 : a scientific advisory committee and 5. a Council of the Wise, created ad hoc for Kawawana and expected to be summoned in case of conflicts. These bodies have various mandates for decision-making, advice and execution. Regarding issues of “good governance”, it is remarkable that everyone works as a volunteer and whenever resources are obtained they go straight into specific activities. The President of the fishermen association does not deal with money, which is the realm of the Treasurer. The President, however, is the caretaker of the material resources of the association (nets and instruments for the monitoring ; wood canoe and engine for the surveillance operations; small computer and camera, etc.).
How many years has your solution been applied 3 Years // Have others reproduced your solution elsewhere? Yes // Could the fishermen do all this alone? Indeed, Kawawana is unique because the fishermen themselves initiated the process, decided to create their conserved area and only afterwards went to seek some technical and financial resources to help. This makes a world of difference with respect to the usual situation in which an external NGO elicits the “participation” of a local group, often mistakenly described as a “community”. Only after the fishermen decided to set up Kawawana they sought and obtained some support to organize two large meetings to have the decision validated by their whole communities. That support was obtained from GEF SGP New York, with the intermediary of Cenesta—a small NGO from another country in the South. Three technical advisors were also supported to provide assistance in setting up the monitoring system for the Community Conserved Area. And the Fiba Foundation provided resources for a wood canoe and small engine for the surveillance operations. There is no ongoing project or initiative supporting Kawawana, but the fishermen association has reached out to a number of networks, such as the ICCA Consortium (www.iccaforum.org) and RAMPAO (www.rampao.org).
The local ecosystemƒ?? a tropical estuary embroidered with inlets and mangrovesƒ?? used to host amazing biodiversity and possess a sophisticated management setting, a mix of socio-economic good sense (resources belongs to the clans capable of managing them) and cultural elements (respect of nature mediated by fetishes), which worked remarkably well. Kawawana re-establishes today some ancient rules, including no entry into the ƒ??sacred bolongsƒ? that always harbored rich biodiversity (rare humpback dolphin, manatee, coastal fish and shellfishƒ??). Today, the same bolongs are again no-fishing and no-entry ƒ??red areasƒ? and constitute a refuge for all aquatic life. The idea of ƒ??sacred areasƒ? conserved by local institutions is nothing new among the Djola: every village has at least one sacred grove, carefully respected by all. Besides the ƒ??red zonesƒ?, two other zones have been declared: an ƒ??orange zoneƒ? dedicated to fishing for local consumption and market; and a ƒ??yellow zoneƒ?, where fishing is allowed to everyone, but only with controlled gear (no motor engine) and strict observation of rules (e.g., no catching of small fish, no monofilament nets). In all, these rules render Kawawana is much quieter and safer environment for all wildlife. In addition, fishing for threatened species such as sharks and rays is forbidden, and not practiced, in the CCA. // Kawawana encompasses 9,487 ha of bolongs and coastal mangroves bordering the ria Casamance (data according to the latest maps developed in collaboration between the fishermen association and the government agencies).

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