In 2017 we started to support our local partner on Zanzibar marinecultures.org on protecting the octopus. Octopuses are a valued food source on Zanzibar and give the fishermen good earnings. At low tide many people are looking for them in the shallow waters, indiscriminately catching all octopuses including female octopuses that are taking care of their eggs. Catching this ‘mother’ octopus is a bad catch since the body weight in this last stage of her life is very low. But the impact on the population is immense since all eggs will be left unguarded as food for other marine life.
An octopus management program closes off an area where for a certain period of time (e.g. 3 months) no octopus fishing is allowed. To show the boundaries of the protected area (or No Take Zone) on the water demarcation buoys are deployed, and on the beach the boundaries are shown with flags. In this project it is of utmost importance to have approval from and the collaboration with all the stakeholders e.g. fishermen, villagers, police, ministry, restaurants, etc. The restaurants play an important role since they agree to not serve octopus in this No Take period.
After 2 or 3 months the zone is open again for fishing, and the results for the fishermen regarding weight and quantities are remarkable. During the entire project, research is done by a team of local villagers that are trained by a project manager from partner NGO Blue Ventures. This involves mainly the gathering of information of catch quantities before and after the closure, weights and determining the sex of the caught species.