Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fish Talk

So I had a meeting with the local goverment fisheries official for our area, Alex, the head of a British NGO (Ripple Africa), Geoff, and a couple others yesterday. It was very interesting. We learned all about the fisheries management laws in the area, how fishing permits were issued, at what price, when, and with what enforcement mechanisms. The head of the NGO is interested in supporting the creation of some sort of community management system for our area to increase the sustainability of the local fishery. Alex is quite keen on the idea and I am also very interested in helping to set up some sort of community based monitoring program so that we can have a system of data collecting that will allow us to know if any community management iniatives that might be set up are effective. Part of the inspiration behind Geoff and Alex's interest came from a USAID COMPASS supported community management system that was set up at Benji island, just off Salima, which instituted a 6 month no-take season that is, apparently, still being enforced after the end of USAID funding.
Another interesting development that Alex spoke about was the recent (July 1st) increase in the cost of various fishing permits. The price of the different permits, which are based on the fishing gear used, vary however in general the July 1st increases are more than quadruple. Ouch.
Since starting our research program I have been indifferent to approaching established Aid organizations for assistance but more recently through the encouragement of several persons working in the Malawian aid scene I am going to start looking around for possible partners. Especially if we are able to start putting together a broader community management and monitoring system our resources will need to expand. I would love those resources to come in the form of interns or volunteers living and working with us at our research center. So if any of this sounds interesting to you, check us out here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

First Rains

So down here at Kande we received our morning first rain the day before yesterday. It was really quite refreshing after the so many weeks of heat. On that rainy morning I took the opportunity to sit back have a nice hot cup of freshly made and locally-grown Chipunga coffee and read this article, entitled "Number as inventive frontier in knowing and working Australia's water resources." by Helen Verran, a historian and philosopher of science at the University of Melbourne. She wrote a book on Yoruban mathematics and has since been active in the field of Science and Technology Studies.
The article, which is rather difficult to follow as befits here philosophy prof status I suppose, talks about two water quality data collecting organizations in Australia. One of the organizations, Waterwatch has a huge network of volunteer data collectors who regularly go out and test the water quality of Australia's rivers. Their goal is to "fill in spatial and temporal monitoring gaps" in Australia's government-run monitoring program and their motto is "You can't sustain what you haven't measured." How cool is that! And it is precisely the kind of thing we are trying to set up here in Malawi. The "monitoring gaps" here are pretty huge.