Fish is a vital dietary resource in sub-Saharan Africa, and the last major food source that is primarily collected from the wild. However, overfishing is depleting critical fish populations, to the detriment not only of the people, but also the balance of freshwater ecosystems.

A community-managed fishery project seeks to reduce pressure on marine and terrestrial resources in both the Maputo Special Reserve and the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve. This also provides communities with alternative and sustainable livelihoods.

Peace Parks and partners are in the Machanghulo Peninsula visiting the fish farmers living in the buffer zone of Maputo Special Reserve who are growing freshwater tilapia. Project team members join Antony Alexander from Peace Parks and Miguel Gonçalves, Park Warden of both the Maputo Special and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine reserves to find out how it is going. After quick introductions are done, it’s on to business. The fish are two months old now and will continue to be fed and cared for until they are six months old. Then they will be ready for market, or as extra food for the table.

With about 40 community members taking part, the farmers have been trained in tilapia production methods and assisted in setting up cultivating farms. By receiving a financial contribution, with the reserve purchasing the fingerlings (baby fish) and supporting the food production, communities are able to raise a valuable food or income source. The fish are raised in net cages laid out in the lagoon and fed with homemade feed made from corn, soybeans, moringa and other natural nutrients produced locally.

Directly benefiting 320 artisanal fishers, the programme reaches about 11 000 indirect beneficiaries, between residents of Machangulo Village and relatives of the direct beneficiaries of other villages in the Maputo Province. By reducing the pressure on marine and terrestrial resources, through the uptake of more sustainable livelihoods, there is a significant contribution to the conservation of biodiversity.

This initiative was launched and implemented by Maputo Special Reserve with support from Fondation Ensemble. Technical and financial support was also provided by Peace Parks Foundation, which has supported the development of the Maputo Special Reserve and the Ponto do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve for almost two decades through a partnership agreement with Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas.