Watamu Young Fishermen group is a registered self-help group with 40 members. The majority of members are between 18 and 30 years old and have had very little formal education to make them competent in the job market. They turn to fishing as an alternative source of income and food for their families. What they lack in formal education they make up for in the extensive knowledge they have about the ocean.
The group was formed in 2004 to look out for the interests of the young men in Watamu who engaged themselves in the fishing business. The older folks of Watamu have lead the industry in skills, experience and decision making. Some of the decisions they made did not sit well with the younger generation of fishermen and they respectfully disagreed on decisions that brought short term gain but had a long term negative effect on the marine resources and the environment. In order to get their voices heard and to get their ideas considered they took action and joined the Watamu Beach Management Unit (BMU). This still didn’t enable them to bring about a change of attitudes regarding sustainable marine resource management and so they formed the Watamu Young Fishermen group to strengthen their voice.
The group members’ activities are in all aspects related to the ocean. They take pride in keeping the beaches clean, protecting remaining riparian areas, patrolling land and ocean, advocacy and campaigning.
Ring netting is one of the most known campaigns that the Young Fishermen have taken on. Watamu Marine Park is a protected area and a UNESCO biosphere zone. The community benefits when Watamu is marketed as the place to be while on holiday. With this in mind the protection, sustainability and equitable distribution of resources can ensure maximum benefit for all, hence the passionate opposition to welcoming a ring net in our midst. The Young Fishermen realise the destruction it brings on our coral reefs, injuries and mortalities on endangered species in our water and its effect on spill over of fish into the open ocean when the ring nets operate within the marine reserve and are catching even the tiniest of fish.
It is efforts from groups such as the Watamu Young Fishermen that will help us save what is left of the ocean. It is only when the community calls for changes that action can be taken. The Watamu Young Fishermen’s group is helping make a positive change in regards to marine conservation for future generations to come and here at LOT, we are proud to be able to support them in any way we can.