Fishing Communities in the Comoros Develop Fishing Management Projects

June 14, 2016


Nasbata Ahamada works at a fish drying facility, which helps the community minimize losses by increasing the lifespan of the fish, and spread revenue over time. 

© Erick Rabemananoro, World Bank

  • The World Bank supports the government in its efforts to boost employment and revenue in the fisheries industry
  • Communities decide which activities are implemented at their level
  • Twenty-nine villages approved resource co-management plans aimed at avoiding overfishing

MORONI, June 14, 2016 – After more than 50 years working as a fisherman, Ahmed Bourhane, 68, said that fishing in his village has changed.  

“The work has become harder,” said Bourhane, who lives in Mtsamoudou, where he and about 10,000 residents depend primarily on agriculture and fishing for their livelihoods. “There are fewer fish, and we have to go further and further out into the open sea.”

An increase of fishers and overexploitation of fish stocks has presented a challenge in the Comoros archipelago, where roughly 140,000 people earn their livelihood from fishing. The National Investment Promotion Association  (NIPA) puts annual production at 16,000 metric tons, virtually all of which is consumed locally, with the fisheries sector accounting for 10% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

 “Small-scale fishing provides a vital safety net for the disadvantaged groups in the Comoros, as it is a source of employment for a great many persons who are often poor,” said Coralie Gevers, World Bank Country Manager for the Comoros.

To help boost employment and revenue in the fisheries sector, the World Bank provides assistance to the sector through the Co-Management of Coastal Resources for Sustainable Livelihoods (CoReCSuD) Project, with funding from the Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF), through the International Development Association (IDA), totaling $2.73 million.

The Directorate General for Fisheries Resources (DGRH) is responsible for implementation, in close collaboration with the Community Development Assistance Fund (FADC). The project also supports the Comoros Country Partnership Strategy’s goal of shared growth through a stronger, sustainable fisheries industry.



Nasbata Ahamada works at a fish drying facility, which helps the community minimize losses by increasing the lifespan of the fish, and spread revenue over time. 

© Erick Rabemananoro, World Bank

By the end of December 2015, close to 6,000 fishermen had received training in sustainable fishing techniques, and five resource co-management plans aimed at avoiding overfishing had been approved by all 29 villages. Co-management measures adopted include a ban on gillnets, bed nets, dynamite fishing, and the use of fish poison (tephrosia).

“The involvement of communities in choosing activities is one of the key features of the project.  Through the process, fishermen are simultaneously decision-makers, actors, and beneficiaries,” said Xavier Vincent, World Bank senior fisheries specialist. The project is being conducted in 27 pilot villages and 67 micro-projects have been submitted by artisanal fishing communities, 28 of which have already been completed.

In Mtsamoudou, the community chose to build a storage facility for fishing materials to prevent them from being stolen or damaged during the storms the area is prone to.  A Comorian fisherman has to spend at least $2,250 to purchase a canoe, engine, oars, and nets and/or hooks. In a country where the per capita GDP is $810, this sum represents a sizeable investment in equipment that cannot be easily replaced.

One of the activities in greatest demand by communities is the construction of a fish drying facility, which makes it possible to handle production peaks and increase product life span and consumption. Losses are therefore minimized, marketing is facilitated, and communities can spread their revenue over time. The village of Chomoni (700 residents) therefore chose to create a community drying facility is managed by an association which, in practice, adopts a gender-based approach. 

“The women dry the fish and the fish are caught by the men in the village,” said Nasbata Ahamada, a woman who works at the drying facility.

“The market for dried fish really does have potential,” said Omar Houmadi, Director of the National Fisheries and Merchant Marine School. More than 1,000 metric tons are consumed in the country, but the majority of products come from Madagascar, as local production is inadequate.”

The school was established on the island of Anjouan in 1985, and operates with the assistance of the Japanese government and the CoReCSud project. In particular, it allows the fishermen from the three islands of the Union of the Comoros to receive ongoing training in several areas related to fishing and processing (drying, smoking, and packaging). Another activity intended to address the growing scarcity of octopi lost to overfishing involves teaching techniques aimed at getting this resource to settle in one place and provide it with protection.

In light of the success of the project, the government decided to expand the approach adopted by CoReCSUD through the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Project (SWIOFish1) and will invest $9.5 million in IDA funding and $3.5 million in Global Environment Facility funding (GEF) to assist with the sustainable development of the sector.