Of the two islands making up the Zanzibar archipelago, the less populated and developed Pemba Island hosts some of the richest marine biodiversity in Tanzania and the east African coast in its extensive reefs and mangroves, including turtles, dolphins, dugongs and occasional whales. It is also one of the main sources of subsistence and income for its relatively remote communities, who have witnessed reduced fish catches due to overexploitation and damaging fishing practices – such as the use of destructive drag-nets.

FFI began work at the end of 2014 and, through partnership with local NGO Mwambao and several mobilised local communities, has implemented the island’s first temporary octopus-fishing closed areas in 2016. These were established in order to improve octopus stocks, build support for local marine conservation, and to contribute to the successful management of the sea-scape level Pemba Channel MPA (PECCA). Building on these first local successes and with an enhanced partnership, FFI has started to expand these activities to other communities on the island while empowering fishing committees and institutions at several levels, with the aim of more effective marine management across Pemba supported by community access to better and fairer markets for their catch.

The government of Zanzibar supported the approval process for community-led marine management for the first time in 2017 by holding a Fishers Executive Committee meeting, where representatives of all fishing communities in the Pemba Channel were present. Both Kisiwa Panza and Kukuu’s closure plans were approved.

We are grateful for financial support from the Darwin Initiative, funded by the UK Government and from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.