6,304 hectares that comprise the Tanbi Wetlands National Park TWNP), a RAMSAR site of significant biological diversity.
Cockle and oyster harvesting, processing and marketing
Local resources the community depends on, and for what purpose:
Mangroves and aquatic resources within the mangrove ecosystem. The oysters grow on the mangrove roots and the cockles grow in the substrate.
Local threats to resources:
Coastal erosion due to more intense wind & waves & due to human activities, sea level rise, changes in freshwater flows into coastal mangroves, pollution, encroachment due to settlements & development including cutting of mangroves for fuel & construction
Coastal erosion due to more intense wind and waves, sea level rise
Level of exposure to these hazards:
The whole area is very exposed to sea level rise because of the topography. In the conservative scenario of a 20-49 cm sea level rise by 2100 associated with a 2m inundation level, the City of Banjul, and 90% of the mangrove in The Gambia Estuary will be inundated. The coastal zone is very exposed to erosion from the intense wind and waves. However, the exposure differs from site to site. Bays are more exposed than convex coastal areas. The bay shape of Tanji area is very exposed and sensitive to coastal erosion. In some areas of TWNP where mangrove forests are being cut down for fuel and construction, the river banks are sagging and flooding is taking place destroying homes and killing fruit trees (saline intrusion).
Level of sensitivity:
When TWNP is inundated the natural process would be for the mangrove vegetation to retreat. This cannot happen in the case of the TWNP because human settlements have encroached into the intertidal zone and the mangroves cannot retreat any further. Presently, the women are harvesting oysters from mangrove prop roots and the chopping down of mangroves is reducing the population of wild oysters that the women depend on for their livelihood.
Level of adaptive capacity:
The following capacities/enabling conditions were emerging in the 2007-2009 period: - TRY Oyster Women?s Association established in 2007, bringing 15 dispersed and economically and socially marginalized women?s oyster harvesting communities together around their common challenges and vision for a better future - The revised (2007) Gambian legal framework for fisheries co-management - Local and international assistance and support, As a result, a participatory, ecosystem-based fisheries co-management plan was developed for the TWNP shellfish fishery. The Cockle and Oyster Fishery Co-Management Plan approved in January 2012 grants exclusive use rights and authority for responsible and sustained management and conservation of the cockle and oyster resources in the Tanbi Wetlands National Park (TWNP) to the TRY Association. This may be the first case in Sub-Saharan Africa of a women?s association granted such rights for management of a fishery by a national government. The plan includes biological, ecological, social and economic management objectives and is based on the principle of adaptive management. It outlines key themes for research and monitoring, including climate change adaptation and mitigation. As they implement the plan, the women are already engaged in management measures that increase their capacity to cope with pressure on the resource from climate change and other factors. These include best harvesting practices to reduce damage to mangroves, improvements in the shellfish value chain to develop a stable or increased revenue from a limited harvest, mangrove reforestation in degraded areas and hands-on training in oyster and cockle aquaculture. At the TRY Center, the women and their daughters are receiving training in alternative livelihood activities such as soap making, tie and dye and batik making, handicraft, microfinance and training in small-scale business management. Some of the women are engaged in fish smoking and in rearing small ruminants (pigs, ducks). Prior to the establishment of TRY and the co-management planning process, the oyster and cockle harvesters were working in their own isolated communities, were not recognized by fisheries or other national departments and did not have the information or the confidence to engage with decision-makers and make their voices heard.