Today, TRAFFIC released a report revealing the results of a seven-month photographic survey of fish landing sites across Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar. The survey observed approximately 70,000 individual marine creatures being openly landed and traded, 37 of which were listed as Threatened, Near Threatened, and CITES-listed species.

The shores and reefs of Eastern Africa are home to a diverse array of marine species that provide food security and income for many coastal communities. However, the report highlights the danger of unsustainable harvesting methods and lack of enforcement, which could lead to the loss of ecological and economic value.

TRAFFIC experts witnessed hauls from artisanal fisheries containing species such as the Endangered Humphead Wrasse and Vulnerable Spotted Seahorse, alongside smaller fish. 63% of species landed were under 30 cm in size, raising concerns of indiscriminate harvesting for maximum catch. Lead author Oliver Wright commented that this could have “long-term adverse economic consequences for local communities and ecological risks.”

The report calls for governments to address differences in fishing laws between neighbouring countries, and to implement capacity building, enforcement training, and awareness-raising initiatives for artisanal fishing communities.

Action begins today as TRAFFIC’s Reducing Trade Threats to Africa’s wild species and ecosystems (ReTTA) project delivers a workshop with key stakeholders in Zanzibar. Last year, the same project installed information boards at Kenya and Tanzania ports to raise awareness of prohibited threatened marine species and fishing regulations.

The report is available to download here.