Today we visited the fish ponds in Makongeni, South Kenya.
There is a local group in the village (90% women) who run the fish ponds. They gain benefits for the community (from selling the fish product) whilst avoiding using and degrading the local mangrove ecosystem.
There are five fish ponds, with milkfish of different life stages. Some of the ponds have mangroves planted around the perimeter to promote shelter habitats and protection from predation whilst binding the pond boundaries. The group have been heavily involved with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), who have provided training in many areas from simple bookkeeping and farm management to technical skills in finding fish seed to populate their ponds and making fish feed from locally available materials such as coconut.
The project has been so successful that KMFRI are now phasing out and will only need to do occasional monitoring. This is an excellent example of a project that supports mangrove conservation ‘no take’ areas, because the community are able to generate income from the fish ponds, therefore avoiding the need for them to harvest the mangroves in the nearby protected and unprotected mangroves.
A truly sustainable way of conserving mangroves whilst supporting local livelihoods.