“I am a Fisher”: Identity and livelihood diversification in Lake Tanganyika Fisheries, Tanzania


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




Lake Tanganyika, Identity, Fishing practices, Livelihood diversification


Human-environmental interaction is central to natural resources management. This interaction determines how the resource is utilized in a given cultural context. In Lake Tanganyika, evidence indicates a decline in fish catches. Despite this decline, fishers have demonstrated little motivation to leave fishing or diversify. A qualitative study was conducted to explore how identity influenced the phenomenon. Interviews, focus group discussions, and observation were employed to generate data. The findings of this study indicated that interactions between the fishing communities and the Lake generated identity, in which fishers came to identify themselves with the Lake. This identity shaped the fishing practices and influenced the motivation to not leave fishing or diversify. Strong attachment to the Lake and fishing activities contributed to little motivation to leave fishing or engage in other sources of livelihood, especially for old fishers. This was also the case for some young fishers in rural areas of the studied communities. This study concludes that considering how fishers identify with the resource is vital for developing future strategies to improve fisheries management. This may include options to expand.


  • Identity shapes and influences fishing practices
  • How fishers identify themselves with fisheries resources influences their likelihood to diversify or leave fishing activity
  • It is necessary to consider the role of identity in designing future fisheries management strategies


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How to Cite

Bulengela, G. (2024). “I am a Fisher”: Identity and livelihood diversification in Lake Tanganyika Fisheries, Tanzania. Maritime Technology and Research, 6(3), 268718. https://doi.org/10.33175/mtr.2024.268718