Hi, I’m John Mbugani, the Education Officer at Sea Sense. Last week I got back from a 10 day trip to the Rufiji Delta, the last stronghold of the extremely rare and elusive dugong, or sea cow. The delta is amazing with small channels bordered by mangrove trees and so many birds! On the sea side, there are vast areas of seagrasses and long stretches of sandy beaches some of which are turtle nesting sites.
The reason we (me and a group of fishers and experts from other parts of Tanzania) were there was to try and make sure dugong protection and conservation is included in the management plans of recently initiated community “Beach Management Units”. These BMUs are basically groups of local fishers who want to start managing their own marine and coastal resources.
We visited 8 villages to help them think about what issues they have in their village and to draft up a management plan. Some of the problems they face are illegal fishing (dynamiting in particular), use of their fishing grounds by non-resident fishermen and destruction of the seagrasses and fishing grounds by industrial prawn trawlers.
It was a very interesting process and I’m happy to say that conservation of both dugongs and turtles were raised by 6 out of 8 villages and have been included in their plans for resource management.
In a few weeks time we will return to help them start to implement their plans.
Soon I am off to the coast south of Dar es Salaam to conduct some training with hotel staff and do an interview survey. I will be accompanied by the Sea Sense Administrator, Dot Ndunguru and 4 students from the University of Dar es Salaam.