Artisanal Fishers on the Kenyan Coast

Household Livelihoods and Marine Resource Management


Overexploitation of natural resources is often associated with poverty among local populations. A multi-disciplinary team studied artisanal fishers along the Kenyan coast on the Indian Ocean. The main focus of the research was on income diversification of fishers, the pressure on marine resources and the relation between the two. Income diversification did not reduce the pressure on the marine environment. Rather, indications are that many part-time fishers are entering the profession. Moreover, fishers with alternative employment stayed in-shore and used damaging gear more often. Policies to stimulate employment opportunities for coastal communities cannot be expected to lessen the pressure on marine resources and need to be planned carefully in terms of industry location, labour requirements and degree of coastal pollution.

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Biographical Note

Jan Hoorweg was coordinator of the Coast Environment Research Station, Malindi, from 1995-2000. He is semi-retired and attached to the African Studies Centre, Leiden. His main interests are coastal ecology and issues of coastal development. He is editor of the Kenya Coast Handbook (Lit Verlag 2000) and the Coastal Ecology Conference Proceedings (African Studies Centre 2003, 2009).
Barasa Wangila is Vice Chancellor of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kakamega. He holds a Ph.D. in zoology, has carried out extensive research in fisheries and biodiversity and has authored more than twenty-five academic papers He has served as board director of the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute and as external examiner in several universities and has been on various editorial boards.
Allan Degen is head of the Desert Animal Adaptations and Husbandry Unit, Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva. He studies the use of livestock production in livelihood strategies of indigenous populations under both rural and urban conditions. He has done research on Bedouin in Israel, Maasai in Kenya, Kazakhs in Kazakhstan and mid-hill people in Nepal. He is the author of Ecophysiology of Small Desert Mammals (Springer 1997).

Table of contents

Acknowledgements vii
Abbreviations/Acronyms viii
Glossary ix
List of tables x
List of figures xi
List of boxes xi
List of maps xi
1. Sea fisheries in Kenya 1
Background history 1
Artisanal fisheries 7
Fisher incomes and poverty 10
Resource conservation 12
Fishing on the Indian Ocean coast 15
Outline 22
2. Talking to fishers 25
Study area 25
Study design 27
Survey of artisanal fishers 28
Survey of fish landings 29
Survey of fish traders 30
Survey of fisher households 31
Supporting studies 32
3. Artisanal fishers and their craft 35
Fishing vessels 39
Fishing gear 41
Ethnic tradition in fishing 44
Conclusions 47
4. Fish landings 55
Fish species composition and catch size 55
Fisher incomes 61
Fish handling and marketing 64
Marketing constraints 68
Conclusions 69
5. Fisher livelihoods 71
Economic activities 73
Household incomes 75
Income diversification 78
More about activity diversification 79
Food consumption 80
Conclusions 84
6. Marine conservation 87
Fisher number 88
Fishing grounds 90
Fishing gear 93
Fishing frequency 96
Income diversification and fishing practices 97
Conclusions 99
7. Conclusions 102
Appendices 117
1 List of fish species in the Malindi-Kilifi marine waters 118
2 Catch composition by landing site 122
3 Household food consumption 123
4 Regulations in Marine Parks and Marine Reserves 127
Notes 128
References 131
Index 143


Readers interested in artisanal fisheries, marine ecology, coastal management and conservation, rural development and household livelihoods in tropical regions. Students, researchers, lecturers and officers concerned with coastal development.

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