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Q&A with Aloyce Magoti

We sat down with Aloyce Magoti, our fisheries management expert in Tanzania. Magoti helps lead our freshwater efforts around Lake Tanganyika and the communities we’re working closely with as part of our Tuungane (pronounced TOO-un-gah-nee, Kiswahili for “Let’s Unite”) project. Tuungane is a community-focused collaboration to reduce threats and improve the resilience of the Greater Mahale Ecosystem. It is expressly designed to bring together conservation and reproductive-health interventions for integrated solutions to address the pressures on people and nature.
"I work with fishers, fish processors and the general communities to ensure there is sustainable fisheries management in Lake Tanganyika." —Aloyce Magoti

Please tell us a little about yourself and your background and experience.

Aloyce Magoti:

I was born 34 years ago in Tanzania’s Mwanza region in a fishing community along the shore of Lake Victoria. My father was a marine vessel sailor who used to travel in water every day. His work interested me to pursue a career in the fishery sector so that I could be traveling in water bodies. My professional experience and qualification started way back in 2001 when I completed my diploma in fisheries from the Kunduchi Marine Fisheries Training Institute in Dar Es Salaam. I was then employed as a fisheries quality controller on board a marine fishing vessel in the Indian Ocean, where I worked until mid-2002. From there I went to the Kigoma District Council as an assistant fisheries officer doing extension work along Lake Tanganyika until 2004, when I joined the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro to pursue a degree in aquaculture (fish farming). After completing my BSc in 2007, I returned to Kigoma where I was promoted to head of the Fisheries Department, a position that I held until 2011 when I joined The Nature Conservancy as a fisheries community officer.

What is your role with TNC’s Africa team?

Aloyce Magoti:

I work with fishers, fish processors and the general communities to ensure there is sustainable fisheries management in Lake Tanganyika. I work with fishers and other stakeholders to create awareness about a co-management system through Beach Management Units (BMU). A BMU is a community group from a given area/village involving fishery resource management within that area. Our BMU strategy involves two broad components that TNC will pursue to improve fisheries management: 1) implement fisheries co-management and 2) map critical aquatic habitats.

What is your vision for the freshwater component of TNC’s Tuungane project?

Aloyce Magoti:

We want to ensure that the freshwater ecosystem health is maintained and improved in critical areas. More specifically, we wish to maintain the richness and increase the abundance of Lake Tanganyika’s pelagic, littoral and riverine fish communities in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem, while continuing to sustain and improve livelihoods for current and future generations.

Describe the current conditions of Lake Tanganyika’s fishery.

Aloyce Magoti:

There is a significant decline in the quantities of fish and catch in Lake Tanganyika. Local experience shows that even the high-catch season, which runs from July through February, experiences the same low catch. This has started impacting livelihoods of fishers and fish processors. Fewer households today eat fish every day than five years ago.

What are some of the other challenges you’re confronting?

Aloyce Magoti:

Travel to and within the project area is relatively difficult and risky because if you want to move from one village to another, you must travel by boat. We use small boats and sometimes bad weather makes this mode of travel extremely dangerous for staff. Larger and more secure boats would make our jobs easier, but they are expensive to obtain and to maintain. Other challenges include

• Poor understanding of conservation among the local communities we are working with
• Lack of good governance at village and ward levels
• Poor telecommunications—there is no cell phone reception or internet connection in most of the project villages. This makes it difficult for staff to be connected with the rest of the world.

What were the purpose and outcomes of the recent freshwater baseline assessment?

Aloyce Magoti:

We identified community needs and what ideally the project will focus on. The project helps fill existing conservation gaps to improve fisheries management and help ensure Lake Tanganyika continues to provide important natural resources in a sustainable manner.

Are local communities supportive of and interested in conservation efforts?

Aloyce Magoti:

Yes, in general terms, most of the local communities are supportive of and are interested in conservation efforts, though there are some who are worried because of their own interest, especially those who were benefiting from illegal fishing activities, including use of prohibited fish nets.

Why is TNC the best organization to do this work?

Aloyce Magoti:

We have experience from multiple disciplines and geographies, we have the technical resources, and we are a committed and passionate team of conservationists.

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