Network of Community -Managed MPAs for Inshore Small-Scale Fisheries in Mozambique

Published: 11 January 2022
Last edited: 11 January 2022
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Rare's Fish Forever program empowers coastal communities to sustainably manage the coastal fisheries. In Mozambique, globally significant biodiversity intersects with high dependence on local fisheries for food security, rural livelihoods and climate change adaptation. Rare Mozambique has worked with 6 communities to shape the trajectory of community-based coastal fisheries co-management, and to embed fully protected reserves and community-managed access areas into the national management framework.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Access and benefit sharing
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Coastal and marine spatial management
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Fisheries and aquaculture
Food security
Gender mainstreaming
Indigenous people
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Loss of Biodiversity
Ocean warming and acidification
Tropical cyclones / Typhoons
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Lack of food security
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas


Nampula, Mozambique
Inhambane, Mozambique
Maputo, Mozambique


In Mozambique, globally significant biodiversity intersects with high dependence on local fisheries for food security and rural livelihoods. 

Unfortunately, overfishing and destructive fishing techniques have diminished fish catches and degraded ecosystems. National data show fish catch landings and overall catch size are declining, with small-scale fishers reporting that certain species no longer show up in their nets. It is estimated that overall artisanal catch has now declined nearly 30% over the last 25 years. Climate change will likely worsen this issue, as Mozambique’s coasts are vulnerable to cyclones, storm surges, and flooding.


Rare’s intervention has benefitted over 41,000 people directly and over 158,000 people indirectly. Rare has reached communities in six districts of Mozambique.

How do the building blocks interact?

Together, these building blocks form a constant feedback loop, reinforcing each other. Enabling policy sets the stage for the design and legally sanctioned implementation of CMA+R co-management plans. These, in turn, depend on reliable data for decision making that allows communities and local governments to design effective management plans and adapt to changing conditions. Behavior adoption campaigns are the motor that steers this ship by establishing community support for sustainable fishing, building momentum for action, and engaging local leaders at every step. And as a crucial enabling step, our financial inclusion work attends to the critical economic factors that shape fisheries decision making, and create the conditions in which fishing communities can afford to change behaviors, act on data-based decisions, and take advantage of policy that puts natural resource management in community control.


Rare’s intervention has benefitted over 41,000 people directly and over 158,000 people indirectly. Rare has reached communities in 6 districts of Mozambique, including small-scale fishers, fish buyers, savings club participants, and other community members. Impacts include:


  • Helping to develop the legal pathway for the implementation of community co-managed fisheries.
  • Establishing the country’s first formal area of ocean to be put under community co-managed access with reserves (CMA+R), aiming to cover 582 km2 under sustainable management and 83 km2 under full protection. 
  • Strengthening the capacity of community fisheries management bodies and fish buyers with skills and equipment for electronic registration of fishers and catches.
  • Developing participatory ecosystem-based local fisheries management plans.
  • Designing supplemental income initiatives for fishing communities, with nearly 800 community members financially supported to start 11 community enterprises through seed grants.
  • Supporting 22 Savings Clubs, comprising 444 members (68% of whom are women) which have collectively saved over $270,000 USD during the life of the project. 



Eulalia Fernando Baptista is a 60-year-old widow and the sole provider for her 8-person household in Inhassoro district. As a fish seller, Mrs. Baptista’s livelihood depend on healthy small-scale fisheries. When she saw how declining fish stocks were exacerbating her own vulnerability, Baptisa took action. She organized the area’s fish traders into associations and encouraged them to get involved in management. She then founded the Fisheries Community Council (CCP) in Fequete, the very community-based management body that Rare works with today.


Rare’s approach is based on the determined action of fishers and fish workers like Eulalia. By enabling co-management, Rare’s behavior change campaigns open a space for community members like Eulalia. Rare also worked with federal agencies to pass the REPMAR regulation, helping to establish community co-management of fisheries. Rare has helped ensure stronger relationships with government, building the capacity of local managers to work with communities and support their active participation.


As a result, the Fequete CCP and local government have together developed a co-management plan that includes proposed boundaries for a Managed Access area that the community will oversee, and a no-take Reserve designed to protect critical habitat and allow fish stocks to recover. Now, with the formal demarcation of Mozambique’s first community co-managed Reserves, Eulalia and her community expect to see their plans approved and implemented soon. Finally, Rare has worked with the Fequete CCP to build livelihood resilience through small business grants and Savings Clubs, both of which help ensure that Eulalia community can withstand economic shocks.


Eulalia has remained an active voice throughout this process, a strong leader whose experience as a fish buyer guides her insights and whose position as a woman in male-dominated management settings sets a path for increased gender equity in Inhassoro’s fisheries. She has been elected Deputy Secretary of the CCP, and has represented the fish traders of her Province to provide input on FAO’s international Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries. In 2021, Eulalia was awareded a Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) Prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life.

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Zach Lowe Rare