About The Project


A socio­‐ecological assessment of fisheries in three estuarine systems of the SW Indian Ocean – identifying essential links for improved governance

Why Estuarize­‐WIO?

  • Fisheries are crucial for food security and economic activity
  • They are centuries old, and intricate socio-ecological systems (SES) have evolved around the use of fish
  • Threats are growing human populations, resource depletion and climate change
  • Fisheries are notoriously difficult to govern, with few success stories
  • Estuarize-WIO will provide a deeper understanding of SES in estuaries, as basis for strengthening co-management at ecosystem level

Main objectives

  • Develop a common understanding of available information on estuarine ecology and biophysical variability in 3 estuaries
  • Identify and describe natural resource use by people living around estuaries
  • Investigate socio-ecological linkages and feedback systems related to fisheries
  • Construct models to simulate the outcomes of change, incl. management decisions
  • Influence fisheries governance and engender shared responsibility

Multiple scales

  • Temporal:
    Seasonal and inter-annual scales
    Key question: “How do seasonal rhythms influence the behavior and decision-making processes of people in estuaries?”
  • Spatial:
    Estuary and regional scales
    Key question: “Are the social-ecological systems related to fisheries similar across the WIO region, or are they unique to individual estuaries?”

Study Sites


4 Work Packages


Roles and responsibilities of participating institutions


Progress to date

(Started 1st September 2016)

  • Planning and Budgeting Meeting held
  • Year-1 workplans developed and funds disbursed (Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique)
  • Roles and responsibilities defined
  • Project website under design
  • Guidelines for student projects developed

  • Six MSc student projects developed
  • Mozambique: 2 students recruited
  • Tanzania: WP2 Workplan developed
  • Kenya: 2 students recruited
  • WP4: Protocols developed


Contribution to bringing about behavioural and social/environmental changes

  • Greater acceptance of shared responsibility
  • Strengthening of emerging co-management initiatives
  • At estuary scale – Provide a broad information base that includes both traditional knowledge and scientific evidence and method
  • At regional scale – Cause for rethinking the management approach of small-scale fisheries
  • [and development of new fisheries management approaches and plans then need to be advanced through innovation]

Influencing or contributing to changes in regulatory frameworks

  • Contribution to a gradual paradigm shift towards use of a more inclusive, broad socio-ecological basis for governance of small-scale fisheries
  • Governance influenced towards managing ecosystems (instead of individual fisheries), to confer advantages in ecological & economic terms
  • Potential outcomes and longer-term impacts may include:
    • changes to small-scale fisheries policy
    • development of fisheries management plans that include traditional knowledge and is accepted by fishing communities
    • Implementation of regulations seen by users as fair, and to their advantage