Access of vulnerable community members to income generating bivalve aquaculture in northern Mozambique.

Maida Lobo
Published: 26 September 2023
Last edited: 26 September 2023
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Mozambique is located within the West Indian Ocean and has a coastline of about 2,700 kilometres, composed of sand dunes, remarkable mangrove forests and exceptional coral reefs. It is highly biodiverse and is home to endangered species such as dugongs, sea turtles, dolphins, rays, coral reef fish and sharks.


However, it is exposed to the effects of overfishing and climate change, with cyclones and floods increasing in frequency and intensity, which are significantly degrading coastal ecosystems and reducing marine resources.


The project Our Sea, Our Life (OSOL), aims to strengthen the engagement of communities in the co-management of marine areas in Mozambique. The project also aims to improve the food security and well-being of local communities who are highly dependent on marine resources.


With funding from BIOPAMA, OSOL identified successes and challenges faced by the Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) in Bandar, in terms of governance and performance, using the SAGE and IMET methodologies.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Protected and conserved areas governance
Sustainable financing
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Urban poverty and housing
Sea level rise
Tropical cyclones / Typhoons
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience


Bandar, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique


Socio-economic Challenges

Marine resources provide vital income and food security for vulnerable coastal communities in Northern Mozambique. The province’s inhabitants are among the poorest in Mozambique – over 50% live below the poverty line, and over 80% of people participating in fishing activities with minimal access to other livelihoods. This dependency means high vulnerability to environmental and socioeconomic shocks. This area has also faced intensive migration as thousands have fled unrest in northern Cabo Delgado since 2017.


Biological Challenges

High dependency on natural resources results in mangrove and coral reef degradation from destructive livelihoods (salt ponds, mangrove wood cutting) and unsustainable fishing practices (night and neap tide fishing, destructive fishing gears), alongside natural gas exploitation. Mozambique also suffers extreme natural events like storms and cyclones (exacerbated by climate change), leading to siltation and destruction of marine ecosystems.


- Community members.

- District, Provincial and National Government - we assist in the implementing activities that the government struggles to due to insufficient funds.

- National and foreign universities - spaces for internships and research work.

How do the building blocks interact?

The community focus groups must be well engaged through regular community consultations to address LMMA governance issues and improve LMMA performance. The organization facilitating the focus group meetings should maintain a coherent approach throughout the consultation work with communities to gain trust, incentivize genuine engagement of the community members and resulting in a strong sense of commitment by the community members.


Socio-economic Impacts:

Of the 42 loans allowed in VSLAs (Village Savings and Loans Associations) in the first half of 2023, 25,000.00 MZN was invested in small-scale businesses; 7,000.00 MZN in agriculture; 6,500.00MNZ was used in construction and home improvements. Out of the VSLA savings 49,140.00MZN was spent on building and improving their homes; 33,340.00 MZN in small businesses; 27,090.00 MZN in basic necessities (clothes and food); and 25,900.00 MZN in mattresses.  80% of the VSLAs members are women which make VSLAs very strong tools to empower women socio-economically resulting in their higher engagement in the governance of marine resources, therefore improving the equitable management of marine resources by the Community Fisheries Councils (CCPs).


Biological Impacts:

Community members have reduced dependence on marine resources through increased access to alternative sustainable livelihoods (bivalve aquaculture), also acting as an alternative protein source. This facilitates increased compliance with LMMA regulations such as respecting no-take zones and temporary closures, preventing overharvesting and allowing fish stocks to recover.



Mario Amine Daide

In the 1990s most men and women worked in the cotton and sisal factories; hence the number of fishers was small. There was also little variety in fishing gear, and few buyers. From the year 2000, the factories were closed and with the closure of the factories, came high unemployment, and in response, an increase in the number of fishers.

By 2010, the fishing activity intensified; fishermen of all ages appeared (some coming from Tanzania and Nampula Province) and local market and buyers from other communities and foreigners increased. However, with this development, also came destructive fishing practices. Migrant fishermen were fishing at night using petromax, breaking coral reefs to catch the species hidden in the rocks, and using very fine mesh nets that resemble mosquito nets.

The idea of establishing the locally managed marine areas came from the community itself, having watched through radio and television the opening of the other protected areas in other locations. They were also becoming increasingly aware of the reduction in catches over time. Before the arrival of AMA, there were many attempts to establish the protection zones, but they did not work because of lack of funding and methodology for their success. With the arrival of AMA, they could provide the support to ultimately increase the population of fish and motivate the local community to apply conservation measures.

Currently, the Bandar LMMA in the north of Mozambique is a reference at Mozambican level.

Contributed by

jeremy.huet_43228's picture

Jeremy Huet Zoological Society of London (ZSL)