Just do it
Sometimes an issue -that seems critical- arises quite suddenly. And a short term intervention is necessary. Surprises happen. You can’t plan everything in advance. And sometimes they exceed the scope of our long-term programmes.
But then, sometimes someone has to stand up and act. Act because you feel you have to, and none else acts. If we take on a challenge like that, its is considered a one-off project. Normally, even ‘smaller’ projects like these will have a well-defined time-frame, from start to finish, with clear goals we expect to achieve.
We only consider ‘one-off’ projects if we believe they will have a tangible positive impact on the marine environment and our conservation efforts.
Illegal gear exchange
The aim of the (one-off) illegal gear exchange project was to mitigate sea turtle bycatch, caused by artisanal fishing. We started by classifying popular fishing grounds as either turtle routes, foraging grounds or turtle habitats. That assisted local fishermen in knowing what -and where and when- they can expect bycatch. We also gave instructions in how to prevent bycatch and provided handling protocols, in case a sea turtle was accidentally caught.
Many turtles are harmed by -illegal- usage of unsustainable fishing gear. Fishing methods such as monofilament fishing nets (which are invisible in the water) are known to harm vulnerable turtles at a large scale.
We know because we have data
This misbehaviour is causing a lot of stress for turtles at least, but it also often leads to injuries and direct mortalities. We know this to be the case because we keep track of turtle by catch reports from fishers. Recently -and a the first for Watamu- KWS have started to enforced the law strictly, arresting fishers and confiscating their illegal fishing gear. Enforcement is done on a consistent basis and day and night patrols are performed in the fishing grounds.
Bahari Hai will also be involved in the next step: prevention. Our aim is to remove all illegal gear and provide fishermen with more sustainable methods. So that people can only do the right thing.