Biosphere Reserves as Sentinels of Biodiversity Conservation: Developing Indicators for Monitoring Resilience of Exploited Fisheries Resources in Queen Elizabeth Biosphere Reserve, Uganda
No protected areas in Uganda are in place primarily for aquatic or fish biodiversity and dependent fisheries. However, aquatic ecosystems that support immense fish biodiversity and fisheries do exist in some protected areas. The Queen Elizabeth Biosphere Reserve (QEBR), with boundaries encompassing two major lakes (Edward and George) and several other small lakes is the protected area in Uganda comprising the vast aquatic and fisheries resources. Unlike fisheries resources outside protected areas that are open access and are not adequately managed, the resources in the reserve are regulated with considerable reduced fishing effort and less human development activities such as crop cultivation on land adjacent to water. This provides a mechanism of the reserve to sustain fish biodiversity and benefits to fishing communities within the reserve but at the same time makes the reserve a reference site of how improved management can enhance resilience and sustainability for resources out of the protected areas. This project therefore aims to elucidate on the status of fisheries resources in QEBR using biodiversity indicators widely applicable to assess suitability and resilience of fisheries. The project will mobilize fish biodiversity data within the reserve and use four indicators i.e. sizes of fishes in catch, catch before maturity, species changes in the catch (composition and fish diversity in catches of fishers), and catch per unit effort to explore current state, and annual trends in the resources. In so doing, the project will develop knowledge, a baseline for monitoring performance of management strategies and benefits to fishing communities. The information on the indicators will be developed into non-expert packages to engage policy makers, the managers of the park, and fishing communities.
CEBioS programme of the Belgian Development Cooperation (DGD) and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) that aims at contributing to “a better knowledge of biodiversity and biodiversity policy and a better implementation of international environmental conventions in developing countries”.