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How can I get them to recall?

By Victor Alati, 19th July 2023

Getting fishers to remember daily catches when they start fishing can be a very challenging exercise. My team and I have been interviewing fishers to understand local knowledge. We are conducting interviews with fishers to collect information on halavi guitarfishes (Glaucostegus halavi) fishing experiences at a minimum of three sites located north and south of Mombasa. We are particularly interested in interviewing fishers who have caught the species and any other related species at least once in their lives.

Victor's team has been working with local fishers to understand which species are caught in which areas North and South of Mombasa. Photo © Victor Alati

Our daily exercise depends entirely on the tide. It involves getting early at the beach to wait for fishers to return from the sea. We contacted the beach management unit (BMU) leaders and fisheries managers within our social network to reach many participants. The BMU leaders are helping us to reach out to many fishers through a snowball technique. Working with them also ensures the proper fishers are interviewed to avoid getting misleading information leading to wrong interpretation of results.

Photo © Victor Alati

Our preliminary results indicate that many fishers catch halavi guitarfishes as by-catch or as a fallback after failing to capture their target fish. For example, during one of my interviews, one fisher said, “I catch it when I fail to catch the species I target. I cannot return home empty-handed!” However, fishers differ in opinions on the spatial and temporal trends in species populations. While others say the species is still abundant, some say their populations and body size have reduced significantly over the last decades. A deeper analysis of the interview data will reveal the differences in opinions.

Photo © Victor Alati

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