Perception of marine fisheries resources in Tanzania from past to present: Evidence through local knowledge


  • Gideon Bulengela Department of Social Studies, Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Academy, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania



Fishers’ perception, Indian Ocean, Fishing practices, Tanzania


How communities interact with natural resources is a critical topic of discussion around the world. In this study, we approach the phenomenon from the fishers’ perspective. This study aims to explore the perception and knowledge of local fishers regarding fishing practices. With the help of interviews and focus group discussions with residents of three fishing communities located along the Indian Ocean coast in Tanzania, the research discovered that these local fishers are not just engaged in catching fish; they also possess a valuable understanding of the ocean and fishing practices. The study concludes that incorporating the perception and knowledge of these local fishermen into future fisheries management initiatives could be highly beneficial.


  • Fishers do not merely fish; they possess rich and valuable knowledge regarding marine resources
  • The knowledge is vital for improved fisheries management
  • Fisheries managers need to consider fishers as knowers, not merely exploiters of fisheries resources
  • Integration of local knowledge and scientific knowledge in fisheries management would yield better fruits


Adrianto, L., Nawawi, A., Solihin, A., & Hartoto, D. (2011). Local constructions of fisheries management in Indonesia. Bogor: Center for Coastal and Marine Resources Studies.

Anticamara, J. A., Watson, R., Gelchu, A., & Pauly, D. (2011). Global fishing effort (1950 - 2010): Trends, gaps, and implications. Fisheries Research, 107(1-3), 131-136.

Awuah-Nyamekye, S. (2009). Salvaging nature: The Akan Religio-Cultural Perspective. Worldviews, 13, 251-282.

Bassett, T. J., & Peimer, A. W. (2015). Political ecological perspectives on socioecological relations. Natures Sciences Sociétés, 165(23), 157-165.

Bassett, T. J., & Zimmerer, K. S. (2003). Cultural ecology. In Gaile, C. J., & Wilmott, G. L. (Eds.). Geography in America at the dawn of the new millennium. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Berg, B. L. (2001). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences (4th eds.). Needham Heights: Allyn & Bacon.

Berkes, F., Colding, J., & Folke, C. (2000). Rediscovery of traditional ecological knowledge as adaptive management. Ecological Applications, 10(5), 1251-1262.[1251:ROTEKA]2.0.CO;2

Berkström, C., Myron, P., Narriman, S. J., Lina, M. N., & Beatrice, I. C. (2019). Fishers’ Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) on connectivity and seascape management. Fronters in Marine Science, 6(3), 1-10.

Braulik, G., Kasuga, M., & Majubwa, G. (2020). Local ecological knowledge demonstrates shifting baselines and the large-scale decline of sawfishes (Pristidae) in Tanzania. African Journal of Marine Science, 42(1), 67-79.

Bulengela, G., Onyango, P., Brehm, J., Staerhr, P., & Sweke, E. (2020). Bring fishermen at the center: The value of local knowledge for understanding fisheries resources and climate-related changes in Lake Tanganyika. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 22, 5621-5649.

Carmack, E., & Macdonald, R. (2008). Water and ice-related phenomena in the coastal region of the Beaufort Sea: Some parallels between native experience and western science. Arctic, 61(3), 265-280.

Charnley, S., Fischer, A. P., & Jones, E. T. (2007). Integrating traditional and local ecological knowledge into forest biodiversity conservation in the Pacific Northwest. Forest Ecology and Management, 246(1), 14-28.

Cinner, J., & McClanahan, T. R. (2006). Socioeconomic factors that lead to overfishing in small-scale coral reef fisheries of Papua New Guinea. Environmental Conservation, 33(1), 73-80.

CRC. (2006). Community-based fisheries management plan, July 2005 - July 2006. Rhode Island.

de la Torre-Castro, M. (2006). Beyond regulations in fisheries management: The dilemmas of the “Beach Recorders” Bwana Dikos in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Ecology and Society, 11(2), 35.

Dickens, P. (2004). Society and nature: Changing our environment changing ourselves. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Erriksonn, H. B,. de la Torre-Castro, M., & Jiddawi, J. (2010). Resource depletion of the sea cucumber fishing in Zanzibar, Tanzania, a need for management reform. Aquatic Living Resource, 23, 382-398.

Evans, D., & Jackson, T. (2001). Sustainable consumption: Perspectives from social and cultural theory. Resolve Working Paper Series, University of Surrey, Guildford.

Eythorsson, E. (1993). Sami Fjord Fishermen and the State: Traditional knowledge and resource management in Northern Norway (pp. 133-142). In Inglis, I. (Ed.). Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Ottawa: International Programme on Traditional Ecological Knowledge Research Center, Canada Museum of Nature.

FAO. (2014). The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 2014: Opportunities and challenges. Rome: FAO. Retrieved from

FAO. (2020). World fisheries and aquaculture. Rome: FAO. Retrieved from

Folke, C. (2009). Traditional knowledge in social: Ecological systems. Ecology and Society, 9(3), 7.

Forsyth, T. (2003). Critical political ecology: The politics of environmental science. London and New York: Routledge.

Gadgil, M., Berkes, F., & Folke, C. (1993). Indegenous knowledge for biodisersity conservation. Ambio, 22(2-3), 151-156.

Goldman, M., Turner, T. D., & Daly, M. (2018). A critical political ecology of human dimensions of climate change: Epistemology, ontology, and ethics. WIREs Climate Change, 9(4), e526.

Johannes, R. E., Freeman, M. M, & Hamilton, R. J. (2000). Ignore fishers’ knowledge and miss the boat. Fish and Fisheries, 1(3), 257-272.

Johnson, C. A. (2004). Uncommon ground: The “Poverty of History” in common property discourse. Development and Change, 35(3), 407-433.

Kamat, V. R. (2014). The ocean is our farm: Marine conservation, food insecurity, and social suffering in Southeastern Tanzania. Human Organization, 73(3), 289-298.

Katikiro, R., Deepananda, K. H. M. A., & Macusi, E. (2015). Interplay between perceived changes in fishery and social structures in Tanzanian Coastal Fishing Communities. Fisheries Research, 164, 249-253.

Leite, M. C. F., & Gasalla, M. A. (2013). A method for assessing FEK/LEK as a practical tool for ecosystem-based fisheries management: Seeking consensus in Southeastern Brazil. Fisheries Research, 145, 43-53.

Li, Y., Cheng, H., Beeton, R. J., Sigler, T., & Halog, A. (2016). Sustainability from a Chinese cultural perspective: The implications of harmonious development in environmental management. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 18, 679-696.

Mendenhall, E., Cullen, H., Nyman, E., Paige, R., & Hoopes, J. R. (2020). Climate change increases the risk of fisheries conflict. Marine Affairs, 117, 103954.

Moshy, V. H., & Ian, B. (2016). Seeing through fishers’ Lenses: Exploring marine ecological changes within Mafia Island Marine Park, Tanzania. SAGE Open, 6(2), 1-18.

Pauly, D., Christensen, V., Guenette, S., Pitcher, T.J., Sumaila, R., Waters, C., Watson, R., & Zeller, D. (2002). Towards sustainability in world fisheries. Nature, 418(8), 689-695.

Peet, R., & Watts, M. (1996). Liberation ecologies. London: Routledge.

Petit, P., & Shipton, T. (2012). IUU fishing on lake Tanganyika. India Ocean Region, European Union.

Posey, D. A. (1999). Cultural and spiritual values of biodiversity. London: Intermediate Technology Pubications.

Santha, S. D. (2008). Local ecological knowledge and fisheries management: A study among riverine fishing communities in Kerala, India. Local Environment, 13, 423-435.

Schama, S. (1996). Landscape and mamory. London: Fontana Press.

Silas, M. O., & Gullstrom, M. (2020). Adaptive capacity and coping strategies of small-scale coastal fisheries to declining fish catches: Insights from Tanzanian Communities. Environmental Science and Policy, 108, 67-76.

Stobutzki, I. C., Silvestre, G. T., Talib, A. A., Krongprom, A., Supongpan, M., Khemakorn, P., Armada, N., & Garces, L. R. (2006). Decline of demersal coastal fisheries resources in three developing asian countries. Fisheries Research, 78, 130-142.

Sumeldan, J. D. C., Isabell, R., Arlene L. A., Hernando P. B., Lota A. C., Sabine, P., & Jennifer L. B. (2021). Ask the locals: A community-informed analysis of perceived marine environment quality over time in Palawan, Philippines. Frontiers in Psychology, 12(8), 661810.

Thomas, V. P. (2017). The missing middle: Central Arctic Ocean gaps in fishery research and science coordination. Marine Policy, 85, 79-86.

Thornton, T. F., & Scheer, A. M. (2012). Collaborative engagement of local and traditional knowledge and science in marine environments: A review. Ecology and Society, 17(3), 8.

Watson, A., Alessa, L., & Glaspell, B. (2003). The relationship between traditional ecological knowledge, evolving cultures, and wilderness protection in the Circumpolar North. Conservation Ecology, 8(1), 2.




How to Cite

Bulengela, G. . (2023). Perception of marine fisheries resources in Tanzania from past to present: Evidence through local knowledge. Maritime Technology and Research, 6(2), 267008.