Indiscriminate Fishing, a Major Income Generating Activity within the Mangroves of Bakassi Peninsula

Cameron`s mangroves forest covers approximately 30% of Cameroon`s coastline. The Rio Del Rey Estuary is a trans boundary site between Cameroon and Nigeria and hosts approximately half of Cameroon’s mangroves. The trans boundary site contains geographical coordinates of 4.8° N+ and 8.28° E+ and a mangrove surface area of 1500km2. Rio del Rey has been described as an estuary in which the rivers ,Ndian and Massake, flow out. They are the most intact and best conserved mangrove forest in the African cost (FAO. 2011).

The mangroves Rio Del Rey are a uniquely important habitat for endemic and threatened species such as the Giant frog, Conraua goliath, the West African manatee (Trichechussenegalensis) and the Dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemustetraspis). It also offers a staging area for the migratory Lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) and for the Rachel’s Malimbe (Malimbicusracheliae). The indigenous mangrove species are (Avicenniagerminans, Conocarpus erectus, Rhizophoraharrisonii, Rhizophora mangle and the Rhizophoraracemosa). These mangroves lie in a presently remote and undeveloped area of  Cameroon’s coast.

Over 24,000 active fishermen are engaged directly in fishing in the coastal area of Cameroon.  The demand for fish is increasing as a result of rapid population growth and increase in middle class household income, which drives the global expansion of trade in fisheries and fishery products. At the same time, fisheries encounter complex challenges from habitat degradation, overfishing, overcapacity, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and climate change. In addition, governance failures in fisheries’ management have contributed to exacerbating the unsustainable levels of exploitation of fishery resources and destruction of marine ecosystems and fishery habitats in the Bakassi area Cameroon.

This area lacks education and sensitization of local communities on sustainable fishing methods, awareness on the effects of using unsustainable fishing methods, and a reference document to individuals or cooperate bodies involved in fishing in the Bakassi area. There are inadequate institutional frameworks and fishery regulations, sustainable fishing methods and conservation of fishery resources, fishing techniques and fish processing, fishing operations and fishing technology in Bakassi.

As a result of the above setbacks, ERuDeF with the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implementation by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has implemented the ‘Participative Integrated Ecosystem Service Management Plan for Bakassi Post Conflict Ecosystem’ (PINESMAP- BPCE). The project highlights recommendations to curb practices such as avoidance of destructive fishing practices (bottom trawling, cyanide, dynamite and juvenile fishing) that destroy marine organisms and their habitats and undermine human well-being in Cameroon. The Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development (MINEDEP) has acted as a collaborator between ERuDEF, GEF, UNEP and other implementing NGOs, to aid in the recommendation on the marine landscape.

Recently, training on best practices for sustainable fishing methods, farming, waste a management and mangrove protection, were performed in a capacity building workshop in Bakassi named. The workshop was titled “Strengthening Capacity of Local Communities for adopting best practices in sustainable use of Natural resources.”

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