Mollusc shell fisheries in coastal Kenya: Local ecological knowledge reveals overfishing

A new study led by CRESIDA doctoral student Victor Alati and published in Ocean and Coastal Management has found overfishing of shells, elevated sea-surface temperature and habitat destruction are the main causes of temporal decline of gleaned shells in coastal Kenya. The study was conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Roehampton, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), CORDIO East Africa, Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT), Uppsala University, and the University of York. The researchers used local ecological knowledge to reconstruct mollusc shell catches from 1970 to 2010. This was achieved by interviewing 132 marine shelled mollusc gleaners (fishing by walking) at five sites in coastal Kenya.

The research team has concluded that local ecological knowledge is important in revealing unnoticed species losses and understanding historic changes in the fishery. This is critical for marine shelled molluscs that lack long-term scientific data. Therefore, collaboration between scientists and gleaners or fishers should be encouraged in order to improve our understanding of the status and dynamics of fishing marine shelled molluscs as well as other types of fishing.

Woman looking for shells at Mkwiro, Kenya

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