Who I am
Born in Dar es Salaam and raised in Kyerwa, Tanzania, I obtained a BSc in aquaculture from the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in 2008 and an MSc and PhD in marine biology from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2011 and 2017, respectively. Immediately after completing my BSc in 2008, I officially began my academic career by joining SUA as a tutorial assistant. In 2010 I was promoted to the rank of assistant lecturer and three years later became a lecturer. For more than five years I have gained experience in teaching and researching aquatic biodiversity and conservation, conservation genetics and aquatic zoology. In July 2022 I was ranked 146th best scientist at the SUA and the 564th best in Tanzania by the AD Scientific Index. As a mid-career researcher I have led six small to medium research grants on the conservation of aquatic genetic resources in the past five years and am currently leading an ongoing VLIR-UOS-funded project that is facilitating a multi-stakeholder partnership to foster sustainable shark fisheries in Tanzania. I am also co-leading an SUA Research and Innovation Support project on innovative strategies to improve the conservation of endemic fish in the Kilombero floodplain in Tanzania. In the course of my career I have written and co-authored 11 peer-reviewed journal articles, two papers in conference proceedings and one book chapter.
Where I work
The project will be conducted along the coast of Tanzania and Kenya. The region has recently experienced rapid human population growth, which has increased the demand for fish protein, putting enormous strain on the region’s fishery resources. As a result, fish stocks, of mobulids in particular, have plummeted rapidly and some species have been fished to the brink of extinction. Studies show that fish stocks in coral reef areas in the region have declined by more than 70% in recent years. The impact on mobulids has been very severe because they have a low birth rate and mature late, which increases their vulnerability to extinction.
What I do
This project aims to expose the illegal supply chains of endangered mobulids in Tanzania and Kenya by means of DNA barcoding. It involves visits to landing sites and fish markets along the coast of both countries to collect mobulid tissue for genetic analysis. We will also conduct focus group discussions with fishers and law enforcement personnel and interviews with key informants, all to collect information about illegal mobulid supply chains so they can be disrupted and controlled. In addition, we will hold training courses, seminars, public meetings and traditional dances in at least two fishing villages in Malindi, Tanga, Unguja (Zanzibar), Kilwa and Mtwara to raise awareness among fishers, fish sellers and law enforcement personnel about identifying protected mobulid species and the wise use of fishery resources. Lastly, we will conduct a workshop with fishers, marine protected area authorities, law enforcement personnel, fisheries officials and local government authorities to inform them of the project’s findings and scrutinise the existing policies regarding endangered mobulids and the planning of marine protected areas.