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Billfish, such as marlin and sailfish, are highly valued in artisanal, recreational, and commercial fisheries, but a lack of data has undermined sustainable management of their stocks in the Western Indian Ocean. Nina Wambiji will gather local ecological and fisheries landing data to contribute to the development of an effective regional conservation and management plan for these highly migratory marine fish.

Nina Wambiji meets with fishermen from Ngomeni fishing community in Malindi, Kenya, to gather local ecological and socioeconomic information as part of her work to strengthen fisheries data collection and reporting in the Western Indian Ocean.

The Western Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa is one of the world’s top locations for sportfishing. Recent assessments, however, indicate that stocks of four billfish species—sailfish, striped marlin, blue marlin and black marlin—are either overfished or undergoing overfishing. Unfortunately, most of the data used to inform these assessments come from industrial fishing fleets, with little to no information drawn from recreational or artisanal fisheries.

Wambiji will collect existing data and use a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to examine how fisheries are affecting populations of billfish species, with an emphasis on recreational and artisanal fishing sectors. She will work with stakeholders and national fisheries institutions to develop standardized data collection and reporting systems to facilitate improved assessments for billfish stocks. Focusing on Kenya, Somalia, Comoros, Seychelles and Mauritius, Wambiji also will train fishers, government agency personnel, and resource managers in conducting billfish research, including data collection and reporting.

This project will increase awareness about the ecological and economic significance of these fish to local communities, governments, and nongovernmental organizations. And by participating in this work, fishers will strengthen their capacity to contribute to the efforts of national and regional fisheries institutions to develop an effective billfish conservation and management plan.

To learn more about Wambiji, read her bio: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nina-wambiji-32180332/

See the full list of 2020 Pew marine fellows