Hi! John Mbugani here, the Sea Sense Education Officer.
Last week I went with 4 University of Dar es Salaam students to a village called Kuruti in Mkuranga District, about 100km south of Dar es Salaam to conduct a questionnaire survey about the gillnet fishery. It is a beautiful area colored by a mosaic of mangrove trees which line the Kuruti river bank. Sea Sense has been raising awareness in this area since 2006. Before Sea Sense began activities, Kuruti was famous as a turtle butchery site where it was easy to buy meat, shells and oil. This is no longer the case and Sea Sense has changed village behavior. Turtles are no longer slaughtered deliberately and this year the first two turtle nests were recorded and hatched successfully!
Most of the villagers are fishers using mainly gillnets with a mesh size of > 7” (locally called “sinia”). These nets target big fish such as rays, snappers, catfish and sharks but they are also responsible for the deaths of many turtles every year. During this survey, we talked to fishermen and they came up with the suggestion of exchanging their large mesh gillnets with smaller turtle-friendly mesh gillnets (locally called “soni”).
The soni nets are more expensive to make than sinia nets so this is a challenge to us: to find the funds necessary to make this a reality and to reduce the number of turtles that drown in nets each year.
Can you help Sea Sense achieve this? In the village, there are 12 gillnet boats of which 10 fish using sinia nets (>7 inch nets – which catch turtles) and 2 fish using soni (more turtle-friendly) nets. Each boat fishes using 7 pieces of net. Each piece costs about $220. Therefore, for a boat to change from a sinia to soni net it would cost them $1,540. And there are 10 boats, so therefore, the total would cost $15,400! A considerable amount I’m sure you’ll agree - if you can help us please consider donating.