community managed
Fisheries and marine resources

Community Management of fisheries and marine resources has spread virally around Kenya’s coast over the past decade. Coastal communities in Kenya have adopted the use of Community Conservation Areas (CCAs), to not only protect fisheries and marine resources from destruction but also as a way of securing alternative livelihood activities.


CCAs in Kenya appear to go through five phases, which are temporary depending on the advances that each CCA has made.  These phases are:

  1. Conceptualization,
  2. Inception,
  3. Implementation,
  4. Monitoring and management
  5. Ongoing adaptive management. The final phase is when CCAs continue to exist sustainably in a continuous learning process.

Community Conservation Areas also known as tengefu or vilindo vya wenyeji in Kenya were created away from the traditional government marine park, which are no-take zones, that has been perceived as being top-down and managed by the government. These government parks have provided little economic benefits to local communities whose lives are directly affected by the marine resources. Up to 89% of fishers have been found to perceive no benefits to themselves or to their communities from the existence of government run marine parks. It is therefore not surprising that many CCAs appear to have been created because communities see them as an alternative source of livelihood. Marine conservation in Kenya has moved towards co-management as opposed to the traditional top-down way of natural resource management applied in the past. Ocean Alive is working with other partners to develop and implement guidelines. We believe that such guidelines will support and strengthen community conservation efforts, and allow for long-term protection of marine areas, notably those that have been over-fished, or not well managed in the past. There are presently 19 CCAs in Kenya since 2006. This number is still growing as more BMUs express interest to set aside fishing areas for the purpose of self-governance, conservation and future economic gains. Only a few CCAs are fully functional and most are in their inception stages. Such CCAs need full support by the government and the local community, as well as sufficient financial resources to support the process. The government has recognised and responded to the CCA movement by allocating specific areas to the various coastal communities to manage their own marine resources through Beach Management Units (BMU’s). President Uhuru Kenyatta recently signed a bill regulating the fishing industry. The founders and associates of Ocean Alive are also the founders of the Kuruwitu conservation and Welfare Association (KCWA). The success of KCWA has been central to the present CCA movement and presently acts as a model. The current legal fisheries co-management structure commonly used in Kenya is the Beach Management Unit (BMU) through which community rights over resources have been enhanced. However, although several pieces of legislation govern management of the coastal and marine environment there are no national guidelines and a lack of clarity on legal basis for CCA establishment despite increase in CCAs. Many CCA’s stall or fail within a short time. This, together with the lack or limited management and financial supporting mechanism for CCAs, may be a reason why some CCAs have been established only to fail. Ocean Alive wish to create a cohesive adaptive management plan for marine resources for the Kenya coast which will support existing and future CCA’s. The founding Board of Oceans Alive have been central to the setting up the Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare association which was the first CCA on the Kenya coast set up in 2003

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