Adapting to a Changing Environment


Entry Overview

General Info
Email :
Organization Address: 
Population Impacted: 
500 Women

6,304 hectares that comprise the Tanbi Wetlands National Park TWNP), a RAMSAR site of significant biological diversity.

Major Occupations: 
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
Climate Hazards: 
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.
Describe Your Solution: 

? Diversified or alternative livelihoods Previously, the harvesting, processing and marketing of oysters used to be carried-out annually from December to June until in 2011, by general consensus, the oyster harvesters agreed to reduce the harvesting season to four months per year (i.e. from March 1 to June 30) to allow the oysters to grow to full maturity. This has been done in tandem with improvements in the shellfish value chain with aim of developing a stable or increased revenue from a limited harvest. Shortening of the open season from seven to four months in a year has reduced their dependence on the mangrove ecosystem and allowed the women to engage in diversified or alternative livelihoods. During the closed season, the women oyster harvesters are engaged in other alternative livelihood activities to earn a living such as petty trading, work as house maids, rice farming or cultivation, small scale fish trading. They and their daughters have also been trained in soap making, Tie and Dye and Batik making, Handicraft, Small-Scale Business Management and Microfinance. Some of the women are engaged in rearing small ruminants (pigs and ducks) from which they are earning money. More than one-half of the women have opened Bank Accounts for the first time in their lives, thanks to a microfinance scheme that emphasizes saving. ? Improved food security The biological and ecological management objectives of the co-management plan are designed to ensure a sustained shellfish fishery. This fishery and others that rely on a sustained and healthy mangrove ecosystem contribute to the food security of artisanal fishing communities and others. The economic objective of the plan also aims to improve food security among oyster harvesters. ? Improved use of water resources or other natural ecosystem services The Water Quality and Shellfish Sanitation Planning components of the co-management plan have been monitoring water quality at oyster harvesting sites every 2 weeks for 3 years. This initiative aims to establish water quality zones for the management of shellfish sanitation, with the perspective of accessing higher end markets with quality-assured shellfish. Higher revenues per unit harvested and improved water quality will increase the adaptive capacity of harvesters and the ecosystem.

Ecological Benefit: 
6304 hectares under improved management.
Economic Indicators used to measure benefit: 

Area of mangrove

Community/Social Benefit: 
- Increased awareness and support for sustainable fisheries management - Increased organization of community groups
Economic Cost: 

Revenue streams are over reduced period (4 months open season) until value chain improvements (processing, packaging and marketing) are more developed to spread revenue out over the year.

Economic Benefit: 

Larger oysters/better price per kg.

What were/are the challenges your community faced in implementing this solution?: 

Before the establishment of TRY Association, the cockle and oyster fishery was not organized and was not officially recognized. Family units operated on their own in their respective communities. Therefore, the formative years of TRY Association were very challenging, there was difficulty organizing the communities and establish community management committees which in turn selected a National Committee. The enactment of community by-laws and their enforcement and compliance were also major challenges. The preparation of co-management was a lengthy participatory process that involved all stakeholders including Government agencies, community leaders and local authorities. These problems have been largely overcome. TRY Association has established many linkages and is attracting a lot of interest both within the country, regionally and internationally. This favors the sustainability of the activities of TRY Association.

Describe the community-based process used to develop the solution including tools and processes used: 

Participatory Rapid Appraisals (PRAs) were conducted in the cockle and oyster harvesting communities and the PRAs have revealed significant concerns about over harvesting as the women have to travel longer and farther, take more time to gather cockles and oysters. The number of harvesters has increased over the past decade, and they are collecting more juveniles than before. Conflicts between communities emerged as communities started to encroach into other communities harvesting areas. A vulnerability assessment of coastal area of The Gambia including TWNP conducted in 2011/12 concluded that significant degradation of landscapes with its consequence on communities? livelihoods is occurring in this zone since the early 1960s. Climate change (sea level rise, coastal erosion, mangrove degradation, soil salinization), among other causes, is a major driver of these changes. Coastal and marine zones of The Gambia and estuary and coastal areas are among the most vulnerable. Key findings include: ? In the scenario of a 2m inundation level by 2100 (associated with a 20-49cm sea level rise), will inundate and the City of Banjul and TWNP and adjoining areas, the village of Albreda in the north bank region of the country and 90% of the mangrove in The Gambia Estuary will be affected by inundation. ? Reduced precipitation (35% drop) and less regularity of rainfall (1 year in 5 flooding) will result in salt intrusion, less exposure of the mangrove ecosystems to fresh water, less organic matter discharge to the ocean and subsequently increased mangrove die-back, disturbed fish biological processes (food chain and reproductive state) and loss of rice fields and orchards. ? The whole coastline open to the ocean is exposed to coastal erosion. The sandy nature of the beaches makes the coastal zone very sensitive to increasing intensity of wind and waves. ? Livelihoods in the study area are heavily dependent on fisheries, agriculture and other ecosystem-based activities, including tourism. Value added and alternative livelihoods are limited for the most climate change vulnerable communities. ? Positive examples of adaptive capacity include an ecosystem-based cockle and oyster fishery co-management plan approved in The Gambia, mangrove restoration activities, oyster and cockle aquaculture and training on alternative economic activities. ? Include information on how the most vulnerable stakeholder groups in the community were included the decision making process. TRY Association members, are among the most vulnerable groups in their communities. They are women who are generally widows or single heads of households. They have traditionally engaged in shellfish harvesting as those with better opportunities are not willing to do it due to poor and dangerous working conditions and extremely low economic returns. One of the successful avenues for engaging the women harvesters at the beginning of the co-management planning process was through action research. By participating in experiments on spat collection and pilot aquaculture techniques at different sites throughout the Tanbi, the women gained scientific knowledge about the environment and about the fishery. Combining this with local knowledge, their confidence to make management decisions grew. Regular trainings and stakeholder consultations at the community level that also included decision-makers from the national level were also important in the process. Exchange visits were another method used to expose the women to new approaches and to broaden their perspective about what might be possible, both technically and in terms of organizational structure and management. The exchange visits proved to be important team building experiences for TRY members, enabling them to bond as they relied on each other in unfamiliar settings. The Cockle and Oyster Fishery Co-Management Plan that is now approved grants exclusive use rights to the TRY Association to the cockle and oyster resources in the Tanbi Wetlands National Park (TWNP). The women cockle and oyster harvesters have established community-based committees for each harvesting village and are represented in the Tanbi ecosystem-wide management committee. Under the Cockle and Oyster Co-management Plan, TRY Association determines management measures for the TANBI as a whole. The Community based management committees have the authority to set and change management measures applicable within designated exclusive zones and these include: 1. Set daily quotas on harvest of individuals from community zones during open seasons 2. Establish daily closures from community zones during open seasons 3. Restrict number of harvesters collecting in exclusive use zones 4. Charge user fees or license harvesters 5. Restrict harvesting only to local community (exclude non-community members) 6. Establish penalties including fines not to exceed GMD 5000 for violation of rules, and for repeated offenders, can confiscate harvest gear or banned from further harvesting for a period of up to one year. ? Include partners/organizations who were involved in supporting the solution and their roles. The partner institutions and organizations who were involved in supporting the Cockle and Oyster Co-Management Plan are: 1. Department of Fisheries 2. Department of Parks and Wildlife Management 3. Department of Forestry 4. National Environment Agency 5. TRY Association 6. USAID/Ba-Nafaa Project Roles of partners/organizations are as follows: (a) Department of Fisheries ? Endorses approval of the overall co-management plan to the Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources ? Approval by the Director of Fisheries of substantive changes in the plan goal or objectives, in consultation with the Director of the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management ? Conduct annual audits of plan implementation in collaboration with the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management to assess whether management objectives are being met or progress towards objectives is satisfactory ? Require the TRY management committee to revise management plan rules if not making progress towards sustainability objectives and goal. ? Review all rule changes annually in collaboration with the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, Department of Forestry and National Environment Agency and advise TRY management committee on technical soundness to prevent overexploitation of cockles and oysters and to meet other management objectives. ? Establish a shellfish sanitation program for oysters and cockles that may include: - Establishing closed areas for reasons of seafood safety due to water quality contamination or risks - Requiring and setting as needed, traceability requirements and procedures for harvest, sale and distribution of product intended for raw consumption - Establishing fines for any harvester or seller in the value chain of the product intended for raw consumption that does not have traceability labels (b) Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, Department of Forestry and National Environment Agency ? Recommend the approval of the overall co-management plan to the Minister of Forestry and Environment. ? Assist TRY Association in enforcement of management rules. ? Promote research and monitoring that aide in management. ? Assist with implementation of management measures as requested by the Tanbi Cockle and Oyster Management Committee. ? Substantive changes in plan goal or objectives require approval by the Director of Fisheries in consultation with Director of the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, Department of Forestry and National Environment Agency. ? Cooperate with the Department of Fisheries on annual audits of plan implementation and changes in rules to ensure consistency with national forestry, biodiversity and wildlife laws, regulations and policies and with the TWNP management plan. ? In collaboration with the Department of Fisheries conduct annual audits of plan implementation to assess whether management objectives are being met. ? Monitor essential habitat quality (status of mangrove ecosystem). ? Conduct research on Vulnerability Assessment and impacts of Climate Change. ? Coordinate the activities of the stakeholders within the coastal zone through the Coastal and Marine Working Group. (c) TRY Association Establish a Management Committee for the purposes of managing the cockle and oyster resources in the Tanbi Wetlands National Park. The TRY Association shall decide on the make-up, duration of membership, and how committee members shall be appointed. This committee shall have the authority to set and change management measures applicable throughout the Tanbi special management area, to designate exclusive community use zones, and is authorized to enforce rules, assess fines and seize gear and equipment of violators. Specific authorities include the following: ? Set length of seasonal closures of oysters and cockles and timing of openings for each ? Establish minimum size limits ? Designate community exclusive use zones ? Restrict the number of harvesters collecting in "open" areas - outside of community exclusive use zones ? Charge user fees or license harvesters in "open" areas - outside community exclusive use zones ? Restrict harvesting only to Tanbi Wetlands National Park community residents or open to non-community members under certain conditions (e.g. charge an access fee ) ? Establish permanent closures or closed areas for periods longer than the annual Tanbi-wide closure in "open" areas - outside community exclusive use zones ? Require traceability of product from harvest areas to end consumers for any product sales intended for raw consumption ? Establish closed areas anywhere in Tanbi special management area for reasons of seafood safety due to water quality contamination or risks ? Establish penalties including fines not to exceed Dalais5000 for violations of rules, and for repeat offenders, can confiscate harvest gear or ban individuals from further harvesting for a period up to one year ? Rules need to be approved by the majority of the TRY management committee in a meeting where a quorum (majority) of committee members are present and noted in written minutes. Rules must be communicated to all TRY members via TRY community committees verbally or in writing within 14 days and transmitted for information purposes only (not approval) to the Department of Fisheries, Department of Parks and Wildlife Management and Department of Forestry for assistance in enforcement and as a basis of annual audits and to ensure consistency with existing national laws and regulations. ? Communities shall be trained on cockle and oyster safety and quality assurance. (d) USAID/BaNafaa Project The Project is not a signatory to the Co-Management Plan, but has provided technical and financial assistance to the Department of Fisheries, TRY Association and the other stakeholders for the development of the plan. The project continues to provide capacity building support to the co-management institutions through early 2014. ? Length of implementation The process of development of the The Cockle and Oyster Co-Management Plan for the Tanbi Special Management Area began in 2009 and the Plan was approved by the Gambia Government (Honorable Ministers of Fisheries & Water Resources and Forestry and the Environment) on 17 January 2012.I Its implementation started immediately and is not time limited. It is a living document with adaptive revision institutionalized in the processes defined in the plan. ? Include current management systems used to support the solution. Current management systems used include: 1. Annual review of the Cockle and Oyster Co-Management Plan to adjust to changing fishery and environmental conditions. 2. Research and Monitoring of the fishery and environmental conditions 3. Monitoring and Evaluation of the Plan

Climate hazard of concern: 
Sea level rise
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the ecosystem affected?: 

Conservation and protection of the mangrove ecosystem, practicing responsible harvesting methods that disallows cutting down of mangrove prop roots, approval and implementation of an ecosystem-based management approach, mangrove reforestation of degraded areas, introduction of oyster aquaculture to reduce dependence on the mangroves for supply of oysters, cockle transplanting, reducing the harvesting season and promoting alternative livelihoods.

How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the ecosystem affected?: 

The water quality and Shellfish sanitation planning component of the co-management plan activities is continuously monitoring and aims to create water quality zones for harvesting quality assured shellfish. This should result in the overall improvement of water quality in the TWNP, reducing the sensitivity of the ecosystem to stressors such as sea level rise.

How has your solution increased the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to potential climate changes?: 

The co-management plan increases the capacity of stakeholder institutions and communities to implement an ecosystem-based co-management approach to sustainable fisheries that integrates consideration of climate change vulnerability and impacts. Ecosystem capacity to adapt to potential climate changes will be enhanced by the health of the fishery, the health of the mangroves and the quality of the water. All should be in better condition under the co-management plan than would otherwise have been the case. In addition, co-management initiatives for shellfish sanitation planning will establish the context for reducing further encroachment of the intertidal zone for development. This will protect existing zones that are favorable for potential mangrove migration due to sea level rise.

How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the communities affected?: 

Mangrove reforestation, shellfish aquaculture and alternative livelihood programs, are activities designed to support the protection of communities through the conservation and protection of the mangrove ecosystem.

How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the communities affected?: 

Sea level rise threatens to reduce total mangrove area in the TWNP over time, reducing oyster production. However, improvements in the value chain and alternative livelihood activities will help the oyster harvesting communities to absorb the loss of oyster productivity. Also the mangrove reforestation activities helped to shore-up river banks and reduced the level of folding. Oyster aquaculture is at its infancy but when fully developed will further reduce the sensitivity of the affected communities.

How has your solution increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes?: 

Through the exclusive use rights and sustainable management authorities granted to TRY in the Co-Management Plan, TRY communities of oyster and cockle harvesters have a powerful mechanism for making relevant and informed management decisions as they integrate climate change considerations into their annual monitoring research review and revision process.

Can this solution be replicated elsewhere?: 

Yes it can be replicated in other oyster harvesting areas in the country along both banks of the River Gambia (north and south) where there exists mangrove vegetation. Replication is underway with shellfish harvesting communities in the transboundary zone of the Allahein River Estuary on the southern border of The Gambia with the Casamance in Senegal. A legal framework that acknowledges and provides authority for co-management is necessary either prior to or as one of the outcomes of the process. Participatory ecosystem based fisheries co-management is innovative particularly in situations like the oyster and cockle fishery in The Gambia because it empowers resource users in a context where government institutions do not have the resources and the capacity to manage the fishery themselves and it would otherwise be decimated. It is a relatively low cost, highly adaptive approach that is well suited to the challenges countries and communities are now confronting with the need to adapt to climate change.

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