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Developing Fisheries Management Plans
Inland fisheries tend to be undervalued yet are vital to the livelihoods and food security of many thousands of people. Unfortunately, irresponsible fishing practices, habitat loss and degradation, water abstraction, drainage of wetlands and pollution have led to substantial changes to many inland water bodies. Furthermore, the poor state of knowledge of inland fishery resources and their ecosystems has hindered proper management decision making.
Fishery Management Plans (FMP) are an essential aspect of better and more sustainable management practice. FMPs serve as a reference and information source for the management authority and all interest groups, summarizing the current state of knowledge on the resource, its environment and the fishery, and reflecting all the decisions and actions agreed upon during the course of consultations between the management authority and the interest groups. They are tools which amongst other things identify the partners in the fishery and their respective roles, the agreed objectives for the fishery and the management rules and regulations to apply. Successful management plans are working documents constantly referred to by fishery managers and open to changes.
As part of the EU ACP Fish II Programme and working with the public sector and with local counterparts we developed fisheries management plans (FMP) for two lake fisheries: Chamo and Ziway. A training needs assessment (TNA) was carried out to identify knowledge, skills and attitudes required by fishery officers and other key stakeholders to be involved in an FMP training workshop.
Training materials were developed and fishery officers and researchers participated in a seven-day participatory FMP training and development workshop. The workshop combined theory, working group sessions, plenary discussion and practical fieldwork. Practical work helped to inform the draft FMPs which were validated with key stakeholders from each region. The resulting FMPs reflect a precautionary approach to future management and promote a co-management system which mirrored the government administrative structure. It was recommended that the template for the FMPs should be used for other lake fisheries and that government carries out a wider consultation process with resource users and other key stakeholder groups regarding the draft FMPs with a view to implementing the plans as soon as possible. Action Plans were included in the FMPs to help guide implementation. Following our work, it is understood that the FMPs are being implemented with the assistance of the UN FAO.