Taboos, customs hold key to managing Tanzania’s reefs

A proper recognition of indigenous knowledge in coastal management is a key step towards preserving the marine resources of the East African nation, Tanzania.


Government actions, such as the enforced closures of fishing grounds, are helping to better manage fishery resources and fishing habitats, yet these actions overlook the powerful possibilities of incorporating local indigenous knowledge, says Dr Margareth Kyewalyanga, the Chair of the CRTR Program's East African Centre of Excellence.


While attending GEF's International Waters Conference at Cairns, Australia, today, Dr Kyewalyanga said indigenous knowledge – the culture, wisdom and skills of local people – when used in conjunction with scientifically-developed and improved technology, promised to provide useful ideas and procedures for restoring environmental resilience in the developing world.


Indigenous management strategies of fisheries in Tanzania include:


• Customary marine tenure

• Taboos and beliefs

• Magical power

• Technical inadequacies

• Closures for octopus fishery

• Restrictions of destructive fishing gear.


At a time when coastal populations continue to grow and place increasing demand on limited resources indigenous knowledge does not provide the complete solution. Yet, there is a symbiosis between traditional knowledge and modern science. Each informs the other. Formal science can clarify the significance of myths and customs and it can also benefit from the stronger base of technical information which is created with the addition of indigenous knowledge.

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