Environmental Conservation


Management preferences, perceived benefits and conflicts among resource users and managers in the Mafia Island Marine Park, Tanzania


a1 Wildlife Conservation Society, Marine Programs, Bronx, NY 10460, USA

a2 ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

a3 University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

a4 Coral Reef Conservation Project, PO Box 99470, Mombasa, Kenya

a5 Mafia Island Marine Park, Mafia, Tanzania


Conflicts between resource users and managers are common and well documented on Mafia Island (Tanzania), where there has been a history of unresolved conflict over marine conservation initiatives. The perceptions of fisheries and park restrictions among resource users and managers were evaluated to try to understand the underlying causes of these conflicts. Responses concerning management preferences of government officials employed by the Mafia Island Marine Park (MIMP), personnel of the fisheries department, and heads of households in three villages in and out of the Park were compared. The largest differences in perceptions were found between villagers and managers, but all respondents agreed that minimum fish lengths and gear restrictions were beneficial and that benefits increased along the scale of the individual – community – national government. Villagers and government officials differed most in their perceptions towards area-based management, spatial and temporal closures, and species restrictions. Perceptions of management restrictions and benefits were only weakly correlated with the socioeconomic status of the villagers, but more strongly correlated with their living in or out of the Park and their family's economic options. The most negative perceptions towards restrictions were found in villages near fisheries closures, where there was a heavy reliance on marine resources and a higher numbers of jobs per household, but less reliance on cash crops, animal husbandry and tourism. The lack of these three options appears to have produced lower levels of support for MIMP and associated restrictions, and might be overcome by (1) using gear and minimum size restrictions more than fisheries closures and (2) increasing access to tourism, cash crops, animal husbandry and salaried employment, rather than simply increasing livelihood diversity.

(Received March 31 2008)

(Accepted November 11 2008)


c1 Correspondence: Dr Tim R. McClanahan e-mail: tmcclanahan@wcs.org