- In Mozambique, fishermen are cooperating in the much needed protection of the sooty tern and green turtle nests in the Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago. The fishermen took on this environmental responsibility to help promote a new, possible industry on the soon-to-be-protected islands; tourism.
Under a new partnership between the environmentalist group WWF and local communities living in the Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago, fishermen are protecting and patrolling sooty tern (Sterna fuscata) and green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nests on Puga Puga, Mafamede, and Njovo Islands in northern Mozambique.
Previously, fishermen and locals collected sooty tern eggs, turtles, and turtle eggs for sale in the nearby mainland town of Angoche. "The new partnership is a result of negotiations and consultations carried out with a view to establish a protected area in this region, which is rich in biodiversity and fishing resources," according to WWF.
- Local fishermen committees accepted responsibility to preserve this natural wealth in order to promote a tourism industry, which would provide an alternative economic activity to fishing and agriculture, the group reports from Maputo.
The Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago is located in the northern part of Mozambique, running just off the coast from the towns of Angoche in the north to Pebane in the south. They are recognised as important breeding sites for sooty terns and green turtles in Mozambique, as well as hawksbill turtles and loggerhead turtles. Puga Puga Isalnd, for example, is currently home to 12,000 adult and juvenile sooty terns.
In addition, the islands are important for the coral reefs around them, forming atolls considered to be amongst the best developed in the region. The coastal region is also rich in mangroves, seagrasses, and endemic species of reptiles and plants. The area is part of the East Africa Marine Ecoregion.
Protection of the islands is being undertaken by local fishermen committees through rangers selected by the local community. About 15 rangers take turns to patrol the islands for ten days. The rangers were trained by community rangers from Quirimbas National Park. WWF provided equipment, funding, and training.
In another effort to protect the many endangered turtle species at Mozambican coasts, the Maputo government this month is starting to introduce Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in the nets of local shrimp trawlers. In accordance with Mozambique's new General Regulations for Sea Fisheries approved in 2003, TEDs will be compulsory in all trawl nets used by motor boats from January 2005.
The TEDs will not only protect endangered marine turtles, which are accidentally caught and killed during trawling operations, but will also allow Mozambican producers to enter the US market, which requires shrimp exporters to be certified as TED users.
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