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Revisiting indigenous food fish systems

Oceans Alive is working with the Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare Community-Based Organization and the Bureni fishermen community to revitalise their Tengefu (Community Conservation Areas). ‘Tengefu’ is an area within the marine environment set aside to recover due to degradation due to unsustainable fishing practices and the destruction of the coral cover. Degraded marine environments are often characterised by reduced fish catch and unbalanced ecosystems.

The revitalisation aims to support traditional conservation practices and local community livelihoods. Empowered by the ever growing LIFT Network, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, The Oceans Alive project supports the development of sustainable management measures based on traditional knowledge and improved Monitoring, Control, and surveillance of these vital fisheries.

Fishing is a major economic activity for Kenyan communities along the Kenyan coast. Indigenous fishing knowledge plays a major role in the management of marine resources. Traditional fishing practices relied fully on indigenous knowledge, a systematic body of knowledge adopted by the people through the experience gathered over time. The knowledge is owned by the local communities who apply it in their day to day fishing practices.

Bureni Tengefu: 

After 16 years of Bureni Tengefu being un-operational, Oceans Alive have supported the community group to establish the boundary demarcation of their tengefu through a community participatory process involving the local Fishermen, conservationists, Kuruwitu Beach Management Unit, and Kilifi County Department of Fisheries. 

Building on the strength of this multi-stakeholder collaboration we assembled a Technical Working Committee to spearhead action on the revitalization of the Bureni Tengefu. In our journey so far we have also seen success in community awareness on the ongoing practice of reviving the Tengefu. We incorporated the minds of additional local stakeholders including County Ward administrator, Vipingo area chief, Kilifi County Fisheries officer, fishermen from the neighboring fishing communities and Vipingo Beach residents. The feedback and responses from the fishermen and conservation groups on their readiness to revive the Tengefu only bolstered our approach fostering further confidence that the Bureni Tengefu will soon be operational once again.  

Kuruwitu Tengefu: 

Kuruwitu tengefu maintains its position as a pioneering Community Conservation Area in Kenya. The tengefu is an inspiration to many coastal communities, such as Bureni following closely in Kuruwitu’s footsteps.

Inspired by Kuruwitu’s rich history and determined to see it continue to be a living-classroom for Community Conservation, our project has supported the Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare - Community Based Organisation in securing their 30-ha tengefu. With our sights set on epitomising a model Tengefu, we conducted further patrol training with the Kuruwitu Tengefu Scouts engaging the Kenya Wildlife Service ranges and Kilifi County Department of Fisheries officers.  The scouts were also equipped with patrol uniforms and gear.

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