Each year, we celebrate the achievements of Beach Management Units (BMUs) that WWF works with to conserve our shared fisheries and marine resources in coastal Tanzania. In order to do that we rigorously select the top three performing BMUs from the 57 BMUs established through the RUMAKI+ Fisheries Co-management Programme across Tanzania’s southern coastline. RUMAKI+ is our flagship marine resources conservation project in Tanzania jointly funded by the European Commission and ourselves.
Mangroves fringe on the tropical coastline of Mafia © Edward Parker – WWF, Tanzania
Our 2017 community winners
This year, we recognized the critical contributions, commitment and efficiency of BMUs from Ndagoni, Pombwe and Gezaulole villages. They received cash prizes to the value of £1700, £1000 and £700 respectively. The cash prizes were presented to BMU leaders by Kigamboni’s District Commissioner Mr. Hashim Mgandilwa during a public event on the 18 August. It was a truly inspiring spectacle to witness. The 3 BMUs exemplify the value of conservation through their tireless and groundbreaking work. The event also raised awareness in the community about the issues at stake and inspired them to take action towards sustaining our seas.
District Commissioner Kigamboni hands 1st Award Winners Ndagoni BMU their prize money © Michael Bwoma
Our work with BMUs addressing key threats
We work with BMUs – the community environmental “watchdogs” made up of upto 30 members each in 5 coastal Tanzanian districts – civil societies, the central and local government as well as other partners to achieve sustainable use and management of marine resources. The BMUs patrol, conduct surveillance and monitor the beautiful coral reefs, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, sandy beaches, muddy tidal flats and fisheries stock therein.
Fishing is an important industry along the coast of Tanzania and provides substantial employment, income, livelihood, foreign earnings and revenue for many Tanzanians. Our vast mangrove forests are home to mouthwatering oysters, crabs, prawns and fish while the Indian Ocean boasts high biodiversity and incredible fish catches including species of tuna, red snapper, rabbitfish, parrot fish, sardines and mackerels. Tanzania’s breathtaking sandy beaches serve as perfect getaways for beach lovers, they also play an important ecological and economical role: providing essential nesting habitats for the precious marine turtles found in Tanzania, including the larger green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the smaller hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).
Common green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) © Jürgen Freund – WWF, Philippines
The biggest threats to this marine biodiversity are overfishing,deteriorating coral reef conditions and the deforestation of mangroves and other coastal forests – mainly a result of illegal fishing practices, in addition to the conversion of mangrove forest areas for commercial purposes such as rice farming and urban expansion and industrial development. Pollution is also a major concern as rubbish and other waste are erroneously dumped amongst the mangrove forests.
In keeping with our motto to live harmoniously with nature, we work to support coastal communities and support initiatives to conserve, manage and sustainably use marine resources. We also work to train communities and develop alternative economic activities to ensure that they do not depend on fishing alone to sustain their lives.
Making a difference together
Through active stewardship of marine and fisheries resources by BMUs and community members, hope has been restored as we have begun sighting appearances of rare and endangered species like the almost extinct dugongs as well as the hawksbill, olive ridley and leatherback turtles.
We salute and acknowledge the roles BMU play, and celebrate their contribution to sustaining our seas.