The Government of Tanzania has adopted a participatory co-management approach to fisheries which fully involves communities and recognises them as partners in fisheries planning, management, conservation and development. Community-based groups known as Beach Management Units (BMUs) have been established in several coastal districts. BMUs have clear, legally empowered roles and responsibilities which are set out in National BMU Guidelines and are supported by national fisheries legislation (Fisheries Act No. 22 of 2003). 

Over the past five years Sea Sense has been providing training to BMUs to strengthen their capacity to take on the role of community fisheries managers. 

Ecosystems, Economics and Governance Training

The training workshop consists of three modules that aim to strengthen practical knowledge of resource conservation and management and develop capacity of BMU members to carry out their roles and responsibilities more effectively. The first module focuses on improving understanding of marine ecosystems and links between terrestrial and marine environments and the second modules covers basic fisheries economics including value chains and financial impacts of post harvest losses. During the training BMUs have the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas on responsible and efficient small-scale fishing methods, the impacts of destructive fishing methods on marine ecosystems, monitoring of fish catches at village landing sites and improving fisheries based livelihoods. 

In view of the need to move beyond a technical fisheries approach, the third module focuses on improving the capacity of BMUs to demonstrate and promote good governance within their communities in order to enable negotiations for similar improvements from Local and Central Government. Topics include principles of good governance, leadership qualities and styles, community participation and inclusion, record keeping and communication. 

Specific attention is paid to BMU reporting systems in order to strengthen linkages with District Authorities and facilitate incorporation of BMU management plans into District Development Plans.

Sea Sense also focuses on the development of ‘Life Skills’ to enable BMUs to turn their technical knowledge into action.  Training workshops for BMUs in Mafia, Rufiji, Kilwa, Pangani and Kigamboni Districts have helped BMUs to develop key life skills including team working, critical thinking, decision-making, communicating, negotiating and conflict resolution. Village councillors are also invited to attend the training sessions to build relationships between the two parties. 

The final session of the life skills training focuses on formulating a ‘vision’ for the BMU. This includes setting the BMU goals and identifying strategies for implementing their goals. The participants are asked to reflect on their BMU performance, describe the current status of their BMU and then describe what they want their BMUs to achieve in the future.

Finance training is provided for BMUs that are awarded contracts for district fisheries revenue collection. The training includes topics on identification of revenue collection opportunities, differences between licenses, taxes, tariffs and penalties, recording and documentation, plan preparation and financial reporting. BMUs are often apprehensive of community perceptions towards their role as revenue collectors because of low levels of awareness of laws and regulations related to revenue collection, fines and tariffs amongst citizens. Therefore the finance training prepares BMUs to cope with the challenges of this role. 

Sea Sense provides training in fisheries bylaw formulation. The BMU works together to identify issues of concern that can be addressed through fisheries bylaws such as regulation of migrant fishers, designation of fish landing sites, regulation of sardine processing and control of mangrove harvesting and coral mining. Sea Sense facilitates the drafting of the bylaws which are submitted to District Legal Officers for approval. BMU members acknowledge that enforcement of national and local laws is an important tool in fighting against illegal fishing.