14 Aug 2014

Empowering fishermen for conservation of Lake Tana and its resources

Lake Tana (Photo: gordontour/flickr)
By Obaka Torto

Lake Tana is located in the Amhara National Regional State (ANRS) in the North-Western Ethiopian Highlands. It is the largest lake in Ethiopia and is the source of the Blue Nile River. The lake and its surrounding wetlands have grown to be home to many rare animal and plant species. In addition, the region has immense historical and cultural significance with many churches and monasteries having bloomed in the area.

Despite being a key biodiversity area (KBA), the lake and its surroundings are threatened by intense resource use, pollution and urbanization. Fishers fishing too close to the shoreline that serves as a breeding ground and removal of juvenile fish through use of small nets are the major causes of declining fish stock. Empowering major stakeholders for sustainable utilization and conservation of Lake Tana fish resources project is being implemented by Bahir Dar University to rebuild the declining fish stock of Lake Tana and to conserve this KBA. The project also aims to raise awareness and increase knowledge in the wider community of Lake Tana’s fish resources and the human impacts on these resources.

Training fishermen (Photo: Bahir Dar University)

To date, Bahir Dar University has overseen the formal training of 66 experts, inspectors, and targeted members of associations over the course of four days and conducted a one day awareness campaign targeted at over 250 local fishers. The awareness campaign was recorded and later screened on Amhara TV there by increasing the numbers that could be reached by the campaign. The training sessions were a success, culminating in a decision by the fishers at Delgi, Takusa Woreda, to observe the Lake Tana Closed Season (set by ANRS in its Fisheries Proclamation and Regulation) and to enforce the same after being made aware of their negative impact on the Lakes fish resources. Closed season coincides with the breeding season for catfish and the Labeobarbus, a rare fish species in the Lake, and lasts from June the 1st to the 20th of September. Closure of the Lake allows the fish to breed uninterrupted and to increase in number so that by open season fish in the lake will be replenished. This and the introduction of inspectors around the lake, trained to identify any fishers without identification cards should see an upward trend in the quantities and quality of fish resources in the Lake.

This project is being funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) through its coordinator in Ethiopia, Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society (EWNHS) and will run from January 2014 to June 2015.


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The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.