Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

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Slippery resource in peril: Ecology of Western Indian Ocean Anguillid eels and their contribution to sustainable fisheries and livelihood along the East Coast of Africa.

A. Basic Facts
   i. Project Partners

University of Mpumalanga (Lead Institution-South Africa)

University of Kwazulu Natal (South Africa)

Egerton University (Kenya)

Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI-Kenya)

   ii. Project Duration 2019-2022
   iii. Project Site(s)
   iv. Project Country Kenya, Mozambique, and South Africa
   v. Budget US$ 441,684
B. Project Objectives
  • To undertake a literature review of the known diversity, distributions, biology, ecology and socio-ecological importance of WIO Anguillids.  This review will be undertaken in the context of the socio-ecological value of global Anguillids.
  • To establish hypotheses of the biology and ecology of WIO Anguillids, and their use as a targeted fisheries species from existing literature and specialist solicitations.
  • To characterise the timing and prevalence of the recruitment of Anguillid eels.
  • To characterise the timing and prevalence of the escapement of Anguillid silver eels from rivers back into the sea, including some initial preliminary marine migration routes and behavioural ecology information (Tana, Inkomati and Thukela Estuaries).
  • To evaluate the contribution that WIO Anguillid eel fisheries make to local community livelihoods and any commercial fisheries opportunities.
  • To undertake a regional scale ecological risk assessment of multiple stressors to the wellbeing of Anguillid eel populations throughout the WIO.
  • To review water resource use, protection and fisheries regulations in the region and make recommendations to address ecological, social and economic management of Anguillid eels and associated river connectivity and fish migrations.
C. Expected Results
  • First regional synthesis of biology, ecology, use, conservation activities/opportunities and threats to WIO Anguillids and associated ecosystem processes along the east coast of Africa.
  • Survey reports and empirical data describing timing, distribution, prevalence and ecological aspects of recruitment of WIO Anguillid eels into estuaries.  Survey reports and empirical data describing timing, distribution, prevalence and ecological aspects of escapement of WIO Anguillid eels from rivers into the WIO.
  • Report and associated data on the fisheries of the case study rivers including the importance of WIO Anguillids to the social wellbeing of East African communities.
  • Report presenting the regional scale (spatially referenced) relative risk of multiple stressors to the wellbeing and sustainable use of WIO Anguillids on the East coast of Africa.
  • Recommendation report and or publication to contribute to the sustainable management of the use and protection of Anguillids in the region.
D. Project Activities
  • To undertake a literature review
  • To conduct a survey on the anguillid eel’s recruitment ecology
  • To conduct WIO anguillid eel’s escapement into the sea evaluation
  • To evaluation of the contribution of Anguillids to fisheries to the livelihood of communities
  • To undertake Ecological risk assessment of multiple stressors to the migratory ecology and fisheries value of WIO Anguillid eels
E. Publications
F. Students Supported by the Project

Artimisia Monjane (PhD Student),
Fortunate Mashaphu (PhD Student)
Lena Muthoni Gitonga (MSc Student)

G. For more information, either visit or contact:

Gordon O’Brien <gordon.obrien@ump.ac.za>