Demarcating no-go zones for community fishermen is another initiative that is helping to develop more sustainable fishing practices along the coast and inland in Maputo Special Reserve.

Fishing remains a vital for communities who fish for the pot as well as for their livelihoods. However, despite their relative abundance, Mozambique’s fish stocks are vulnerable to over-exploitation, threatening livelihoods as well as biodiversity.

Back in 2015 it was estimated that at least 70% of the population living along the coastline of the marine reserve in Mozambique was relying heavily on an exhaustible fish resource. A Fishing Management Programme was put in place to ensure sustainable fishing practices and in consultation with community fishermen, a Fishing Community Council was established and monitors appointed. These monitors were trained and tasked with collecting data on fishing practices to guide the further development of the programme. Fishers (including both men and women) are now required to register with the Fishing Community Council and obtain a fishing license. But, managing the vast numbers of fishers in the shallower, or inland waters remains a challenge.

Here in Maputo Special Reserve, no-take zones have been agreed with communities and local government, to allow local fish populations to recover. A series of buoys are laid to highlight the zones to fishers.

Inland, Peace Parks rangers (Dolf being assisted by his trusty helper Eloff) have been busy making concrete blocks that will secure similar buoys to the inland lake beds.

It is a team effort to make the blocks, load them onto the boats and tow them out to the right spot. As each one is dropped a cheer rises from the crew. These buoys will secure the future of the fish and the communities.

Maputo Special Reserve is an essential component of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area as it enables linkages between a mosaic of marine, coastal and inland components with important conservation value and excellent potential for high-value tourism. The reserve combines lakes, wetlands, swamp forests, grasslands and mangrove forests with a pristine coastline that lies within the Maputaland Centre of Endemism.