Nature Uganda: Musambwa Islands Conservation Project - Conservation Challenges

The fishermen use canoes for their fishing and transportation activities. A few of them have boat engines to enable them move quickly and access far off waters to enhance their fish catches. However, the boats used are of poor quality and highly unreliable. This greatly hampers easy movement and quick access to markets. This coupled with poor post harvest handling of fish leads to reduced income a situation that forces fishermen to over fish to compensate for the losses. Sustainable fisheries resources management is key for the continued delivery of benefits to the local communities dependant on Musambwa islands for their incomes and livelihoods. However, at the moment, the fishermen do not have appropriate fishing equipment and technologies (including mechanisms for post harvest handling). The resultant is considerable post harvest fish losses and subsequently loss of income. 
Negative perception of the locals towards birds has been exacerbated by some problem caused by birds that consume fish especially the small Mukene; Rastrineobola argentus which is spread to dry after capture. The fishermen are dependant on fish for income and food and so when birds begin snatching their fish, there is bound to be some conflict leading to bird persecution. Birds are seen as contributors to loss of income and the locals have tended to persecute the birds in an effort to guard their Mukene fish. 
Due to the continued changing composition of the SSGs as a result of migrations, the capacity and skills to work for the conservation of the natural resources and biodiversity continually become eroded. Selling of fish catches at landing sites is by auction (highest bidder takes) and the fish guard or the landing site head (called Gabunga) conducts the exercise. This exercise is highly exploitative to the poor and socially weak individuals, which exacerbate the poverty problem. This coupled with inadequate incentives and some level of negative perception of some community members has led to inability of local communities to work for the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources. Limited alternative sources of livelihood for local communities have greatly led reduced income levels for the community. Consequently, this and the general limited incentives and motivation leads to negative attitudes of the local community towards the management of the environment and natural resources. 
Over 80% of the population in the fish landing sites suffer from bilharzias and the entire population lives in make-shift houses (indecent housing shelter), limited access to medical and sanitation facilities and no clean water. Poor health, poor housing and low productivity are all indicators of a poverty stricken community unable to influence decisions regarding socio-economic development and environmental management. This situation determines the underlying causes of the above factors which in effect greatly undermine the integrity of the environment and natural resource base at Musambwa islands. 

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