Large apex predators such as billfish are increasingly becoming vulnerable due to human-induced activities such as fishing. Yet, there exists a dearth of information on their catch dynamics, ecological and socio-economic aspects, and stock structure in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region. This challenge, in turn, impacts the sustainable utilization, conservation, and effective management of billfish across the WIO.
This first-ever comprehensive regional study in six countries (Kenya, Tanzania (including Zanzibar), Mozambique, Madagascar, Somalia, and South Africa) aims to:
- evaluate the historical and present status of billfish species;
- explore the socio-economic contribution and governance of billfish;
- assess the genetic structure of critical species; and
- determine the spatial and temporal distribution of billfish species
On a broad scale, lack of data on billfish and related fisheries has implications on on-going efforts to achieve the transboundary national priorities, the goals of the Blue Economy Initiative, and key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as:
- improving food and nutrition security
- promoting the wellbeing of communities through equal resource allocation, and
- sustainably utilizing and conserving ocean resources, and
- assessing the quantity of catch for growth of fishing capacity, and
- restoring the productivity of depleted fish stocks among others
Our research work applies an interdisciplinary approach to bridge knowledge gaps through understanding billfish interactions (socio-ecological), associated livelihoods (socio-economic characteristics), and linkages (governance). Our findings will contribute to the overall species health, ecosystem functioning, food and economic security, and multi-scale management given the transboundary nature of these species.