Upcoming visit to Zanzibar & Invitation to workshop

Our three year project about octopus closures in the Western Indian Ocean is coming to a close this year. In this project we have had the opportunity to explore the combination of agent-based modeling and empirical participatory field methods to answer questions about trade-offs, benefit sharing, as well as short- and long term social-ecological outcomes in protected areas.

On June 28th – July 7th 2022 the OctoPINTS team will be heading back to Zanzibar to feed back our results to villages and stakeholders. We will visit the communities we engaged with in our fieldwork back in 2019, where we plan to share our stories through forum theater and the agent-based model we developed based on the stories. In addition we will visit the local NGO we collaborated with in 2019 to go deeper into our methodologies and results with them. We’ll also bring a booklet (available in English or Kiswahili) where the stories are written and illustrated.

We look forward to revisiting Zanzibar and perhaps even see some of you there, if not – we will continue sharing our experiences in this blog!

Best wishes,

The OctoPINTS team

Stakeholder workshop July 6th, Stone Town Zanzibar – Open Invitation

Workshop for sharing and discussing processes & outputs around octopus closures based on results from the OctoPINTS research project

Dear octopus closure or MPA practitioner/researcher! 

If you are interested in learning more about our work and continue the dialogue around closures you are warmly welcome to attend our upcoming workshop, Stone Town, Zanzibar.

When:       Wednesday July 6th 12:00-16:00 Starting with lunch. 

Where:     The Golden Tulip hotel, Stone Town, Zanzibar.

How:         Please email druryoneill.elizabeth@gmail.com If you are interested in participating to make sure there is room and we can plan better. Let us know if you are joining as soon as possible but at the latest June 26th. 

We would like to share our work with you on our methods and results from the process. And have a dialogue around the implications around our results and how to take things forward. If it is not possible for you to attend the workshop, and you are located in Zanzibar, we might be able to visit your office on another day for a meeting to share our work. Don’t hesitate to contact  us by emailing druryoneill.elizabeth@gmail.com if so! 

Warmly welcome,

Emilie Lindkvist, Liz Drury O’Neill, Tim Daw, Rose Mwaipopo, Andrew Wamukota (on site Zanzibar)

The OctoPINTS team

Lulua’s Story

Traders tend to their products at a closure opening November 2019

Hi all I’m Liz Drury O’Neill & welcome to the fourth story in our storytelling series “Characters of the closures: Human Experiences of Marine Conservation & Management”. The following story shares the experiences of women in coastal Zanzibari villages that buy, process and sell octopus- either as soup, kebabs or fried. Lulua is a fictional representation of the many traderwomen that the OctoPINTS project listened to and talked with in 2019. She shares her experiences and opinions of how marine conservation affects her and her fellow traders.

Listen or read below:

Our project is based on octopus fishery closures in the Western Indian Ocean, a type of protected area in conservation and natural resource management used there, traditionally and in more recent times by NGOs and National Governments. In Zanzibar fisheries are highly important for food, work, income, heritage, tradition, identity and ways of life. The octopus from Zanzibar and many other places in the Indian Ocean ends up in the freezers of European supermarkets so these fisheries and the Zanzibaris that fish and trade in them are not isolated but connected to how we buy and eat here in the EU. Also to international policies that mandate the protection of life underwater through the roll out of marine protected areas. 

All the stories in this story series were put together based on data collected in Zanzibar using Story Circles– a method borrowed from Theatre- as well as photo elicitation tasks and focus group discussions. The characters are fictional but the words, actions and thoughts told in the stories represent the participants we worked with in Zanzibar, who will remain anonymous. I have taken the English translations of the Kiswahili transcripts where we chatted to three different groups of traderwomen in three sites and put them into the form of a story, so that their voices and what they wanted to tell me are shared. There often isn’t the space for this in academic papers.

Traderwomen, who are actually often also processors, fishers and transporters (pluriactivity), are often not taken into account as important stakeholders of marine protected areas but they fulfil a crucial function in providing for local food and nutritional security. So protected areas can both help or hinder them to do so, depending on how you look at it, like in the short or long term. It’s common for women in tropical small-scale fishery value chains to deal with products that will go to household consumption, rather than export. Women are of course also found in higher value positions exporting and owning trade businesses in these environments (e.g. Ghana, Philippines). Here we provide a chance for some traderwomen to feedback on the ever spreading marine protected area- octopus closures.

Luluas’s Story

I remember the SFC decided to do it, I heard about it from them and I do think there was a meeting here to discuss with the villagers. At that meeting I remember I saw many people, the investors were there, the NGO who wanted to do it. They came to advise us about closing our coast and told us about the benefits we could achieve. Like our children going to school with fees from the closure. When 50% of people in the village decided ok lets do it then we went ahead, but it was mixed support for a while. I think that’s because we didn’t know the benefits of conservation though. I myself and other octopus traderwomen or vendors like me we did not support this thing. I was reluctant, maybe you could even say stubborn because for me things were going ok. Some of my fellows supported more out of fear of being punished for breaking rules. 

What made me to start this octopus trading business was a difficult life, because I used to buy only fish but now it’s also octopus. I fill my basin and I go to my business, it was the difficult life that made me do this. If you are not hungry you only sleep, but if you are hungry you will innovate in your business ideas.

After we traderwomen witnessed the opening, the richness there, we supported, we are still grateful. Grateful to God. The increase in octopus sizes are good for business, for frying or boiling. It’s better for chopping to make my kebabs. I can also keep the extra in the freezer and then keep them to sell. The selling also means I can get good ingredients for octopus soup I sell, it’s good for customers. I can give them tasty soup for cheaper prices. I provide happiness. 

Both rabbitfish, prawns and squid are more available to me now for my business, the closure helps them too. Octopus prices are lower at the openings due to the amount landed so we can access lots more octopus, and bigger octopus too! Otherwise the tradermen take all the bigger sized octopus. Sometimes they are quite expensive too. We are very satisfied with the opening events, we are happy, I can eat octopus soup with my children! I can also say that I am happy to see women in the coast supporting their lives at the openings. Thank god.

I see my role in this project, with my fellow traderwomen, to be faithful to the rules, to be united and to share the information about where the closure is in the sea. Our responsibility as a group is to be prepared for the many octopus that are landed when we open, we need to prepare cash to buy and make sure we have customers. 

Why did we continue our support until now? Well we saw and heard of other villages doing these closures and also getting benefits so we felt we were not alone. We are up-to-date as a village. Also when I learned more and more about the process and became clearer on what it entailed then I accepted this. 

The opening is a ceremony, it brings me happiness, many visitors come and they even take pictures of us, people are happy, we thank God. 

The profits I get for octopus closures helps my kids, they can get educated, they can wear smart uniforms. Having the bigger octopus, and more of them, means I can meet my household needs. Even the village is improved, the village gets an income, we can help the Mosque. The coral reefs can grow and so can the fish, octopus can reproduce in peace. The coast must be closed so we can receive such grace. It was the grace of God that gave us this project and the blessings with it. 

However, listen to me, unfortunately we have been suffering us traderwomen. Poachers, mainly skin divers “kalipso” have been taking octopus at night, they make us suffer, they remove benefits from others by doing this. It hurts us, it isn’t fair. These divers disturb the process a lot, I hate them, they think the coast belongs to God so they have a right to fish. Buyers work with them though and go to the divers home to get the stolen octopus. 

I also feel affected by those who don’t follow the rules on the opening day and buy illegally, not paying the levy. But I have to. I have to pay the levy. Those who don’t pay the levy and entice away the fishers with high prices really undermine us local female octopus traders. Men enter at high tide on the opening day before the official opening comes, when we can’t enter as we cant swim, yes many of us fish octopus too at the opening. So that means we are at a better advantage to those who just fish. 

So yes there are some downsides, I have to use my savings during the 3 months closures to be able to buy octopus and sometimes I can actually get too much octopus at opening, fishers bring too much, and then I lose money in storing them by renting freezer space. But we traderwomen are grateful and satisfied, there is no work that is bad.

We want this project to be better managed, so as to avoid conflicts so we can continue to benefit into the future. The divers need to be controlled. 

I need this closure because it provides access to big octopus I could never get before, and to so much more. Maybe in the future if this continues I can even think of exporting the octopus as the men do and having more profits. 

The coast should be closed because anything you keep it gains value. If you have two farm-plots, one for cassava and one for bananas, you will be deciding on which one to take for today? You will decide that today I want banana, so when you take the banana the cassava will be kept. This is the same for the coast that is closed, you will go to the other coast while the closed area is growing. 


L’Histoire de Mussa

« Lorsque Dieu ferme cette porte, il en ouvre une autre, il y a à la fois en quelque sorte du gain et des pertes. » 

Plongeurs en apnée, Moçambique

Voilà comment je perçois ces fermetures de la pêche aux poulpes, voilà ce que les gens reçoivent, certains reçoivent beaucoup, d’autres peu, mais tel est la volonté de Dieu. Ainsi donc, nous, les plongeurs en apnée de cette côte, sommes touchés mais nous avons d’autres ressources. Tu sais, toute chose qui contient du bonheur devrait aussi avoir sa part de chagrin, rien n’a de bonheur sans chagrin. 

Lorsque nous parlons des fermetures « ufungaii », cela veut dire fermer quelque chose pour une période déterminée, comme vous le souhaitez et s’attendre à ce que lorsque je viens rouvrir, j’aurais ce dont j’ai besoin. Les profits que les gens obtiennent de la fermeture de la pêche aux poulpes dépend de comment une personne perçoit le projet.

Mais laissez-moi reprendre au commencement, lorsque nous avons entendu parler de ces fermetures pour la première fois. Moi-même et de nombreux compagnons de plongée en apnée « kalipso » nous avions peur, nous n’étions pas favorables au projet. Nous pensions à l’espace maritime que nous allions perdre. Néanmoins, nous avons peu à peu accepté ces fermetures car nous pensions à ce qui avait été promis, un fonds pour le village dont les profits seraient partagés. Cela pourrait vraiment aider ici, à faire des réparations, à assurer l’entretien, à aider l’école. Notre communauté avait besoin de ça, on ne peut pas obtenir ces gains de notre poche. Notre groupe en est arrivé à soutenir le projet car lorsque tu es plongeur, tu vois ce qui se passe dans la mer, cela est bon, cela est mauvais, cela a l’air bien, cela est détruit. Nous reçûmes beaucoup d’information regardant le projet, ce qui était bien, afin de voir ce qu’il se passait. Nous ne tînmes pas compte des quelques plongeurs qui étaient encore contre le projet. 

Globalement, lorsqu’il était actif, le projet était positif. Nous comprenons que lorsque tu laisses quelque chose tranquille, cette chose peut se multiplier. Il comportait de nombreux avantages pour le corail, qui put se régénérer et récupérer de la destruction du chalutage ou de la pêche à l’explosif, car ces fermetures et le processus découragèrent de telles activités de nos côtes. Nous ne nous comportions pas de manière juste envers les poulpes lorsque nous détruisions. Les fermetures nous apportèrent du réconfort car il y avait du corail, des poissons, des œufs de poulpes, des zones de reproductions. Nous ne nous attendions pas à ce que l’environnement change ainsi, le bonheur arriva. Je laissai les poulpes les plus petits, qui étaient si jeunes, je ne choisissais que les plus gros, car c’était la grâce que je reçus des fermetures, la grâce de pouvoir choisir ce que tu veux. Alors, le jour de la réouverture, j’ai pu tirer du profit parce que les poulpes pesaient 2kg, 3kg et plus. Nous pêchâmes non seulement des poulpes mais aussi des poissons, car dans la zone fermée à la pêche ce n’était pas que les poulpes qui étaient entre mais aussi des poissons, des anguilles, tous étaient rétablis, alors nous remercions Dieu pour la grâce présente dans la mer lorsque nous rouvrons la zone fermée. 

Lors de ces fermetures, je vis comment les poulpes comprirent que nous ne les chassons pas, ils devinrent très calmes, comme un simple poisson, et ils viennent en rampant et tu as une chance de les capturer facilement. 

Mais vous savez, pour nous plongeurs, maintenant que le projet a pris fin, la vie suit son cours normal, certains jours tu as des prises, d’autres jours tu échoues. Les poulpes n’ont pas disparu, même sans fermeture ils se reproduisent, ils peuvent se déplacer et changer d’environnement, lorsqu’il fait froid il y en a en abondance, lorsqu’il fait chaud ils vont au large et même les plongeurs ne peuvent les atteindre. Ils sont protégés par Dieu et pas par une fermeture. Lorsque nous mourrons, les poulpes seront encore là.

La fermeture porte ses fruits, oui, mais elle a aussi des effets négatifs de notre côté, car lorsque nous fermons la côte, nous obtenons un profit, mais lorsque nous fermons les conflits augmentent, certains seront d’accord et d’autres refuseront. 

Ils accusent les plongeurs car ils nous envient, ils pensent que nous sommes ceux qui profitons le plus, nous somme peu et ceux qui vont à la pêche au poulpe à pied sont nombreux, lorsque la marée est haute ils ne peuvent pas pêcher et nous, nous pouvons. Ils ne font pas confiance aux plongeurs. Ils deviennent avares, lorsqu’ils voient la quantité de poulpes aux réouvertures, ils se disent au fond d’eux même que s’il y a des poulpes dans les zones les plus proches de la surface, qu’est-ce que ce doit être en profondeur, là où les plongeurs vont.

Pendant le Ramadan, ils rient ensemble car ils savent que nous les plongeurs, ne plongeons pas, ils deviennent tellement heureux, mais lorsque le Ramadan prend fin et que nous sommes libres, il n’y a plus de paix, il n’y aura aucune coopération.

Afin d’avoir de nouvelles fermetures, il y a un certain nombre de choses qui doivent avoir lieu. 

Nous avons besoin d’établir un commerce fiable pour le poulpe. Nous les vendons à un prix très bas, des études devraient être faites afin d’établir comment le commerce va évoluer. Si ce dernier est prometteur, alors nous pouvons fermer la pêche, mais si le commerce est instable, alors pas besoin de fermer, nous sommes mieux sans ce dernier, même si nous n’obtenons que 2 kg, nous aurons de la soupe à partager avec nos enfants, rien que cela !

Nous avons besoin de dirigeants plus forts pour nous former, qui pourrait nous expliquer les bénéfices et les pertes obtenus par les fermetures de la pêche au poulpe. Lorsque ce genre d’éducation aura été promulgué au sein du village, tout le monde comprendra et nous serons d’accord, plutôt que de nous commander, nous les personnes d’un statut inférieur, d’« aller téléphoner aux personnes afin de discuter des problèmes côtiers ». 

Ces dirigeants que nous avons désignés, leurs responsabilités est de mettre un stop aux pratiques piscicoles destructrices, pareil pour le gouvernement. On ne peut pas préserver notre côte pour que des invités arrivent de l’extérieur et pêchent avec des explosifs ou des chaluts, pirates. Des punitions doivent avoir lieu pour ceux qui ne respectent pas les règles, un suivi doit être fait et les amendes doivent être suffisamment importantes pour décourager ces pratiques. 

Nous, les plongeurs, sommes touchés, mais parce que nous voulons ces fermetures, alors nous n’avons pas de voie de sortie, nous nous orientons vers d’autres métiers, comme l’agriculture, l’élevage, car si nous continuons à dépendre de cette côte nous allons souffrir, comme lorsque les fermetures ont commencé, mais désormais nous avons différents moyens d’obtenir un revenu. 

Les plongeurs, en tant que principal groupe de pêcheurs de poulpes, a besoin du gouvernement, en coopération avec de petites entreprises, pour nous soutenir, car nous ne pouvons pas fermer la côte lorsque nous n’avons pas de projets pour nous aider, et nous sommes nombreux à habiter cette côte.

Translation by: Anna Garré


Mussa’s Story

“When God shuts this door he opens the other door, somehow there is benefit, somehow loss”

Low tide in Zanzibari seascape

This is how I see these octopus closures, this is how people get, there are others who get many, others get few, but this is God’s wish. So we as skin divers of this coastline are affected but we have other means. You know, anything that has happiness, there should be also sorrows, nothing has happiness without sorrows.  

When we talk about the closure “ufungaji” it means to close something for a certain period of time, as you wish, and expect that when I come to open I will be having what I need. The benefits that people get from the octopus closure depend on how a person views the project. 

But let me take you back to the beginning, when we first heard of these closures. Me myself and a lot of my fellow divers “kalipso”, we were scared, we were not supportive. We were thinking of the area of the sea we were going to lose. We slowly accepted these closures though because of thinking about what was promised, a village fund where the benefits would be shared. This could really help things here, fix things, provide maintenance, help the school. Our community needed this, you can’t get these benefits out of pocket. Our group came to support the project too because when you are the diver you see what is going on in the sea, this is good, this is bad, this is looking good, this is destroyed. We got a lot of information on the project and this was good, to see what was going on. The few who were still against the project we took no heed of them. 

In general, when it was running, this project was good, we understand that when you leave something it can multiply. There were a lot of benefits for the coral, it could regenerate and recover from destruction like drag nets or blast fishing, because these closures and the process discouraged such activities from our shores. We were not fair to the octopus, when we were destroying. We were brought comfort by the closures because there was coral, fish, octopus eggs, reproductive areas. We didn’t expect the environment to change like that, happiness came. I left the smallest octopus which were so young, because I was only choosing the biggest, because that was the grace I received from closures, the grace is to choose what you want. So on the day we opened I benefited because the octopus was 2kg, 3kg and above. We got not only octopus, but also fish, because in the closure not only octopus enters but also fish, eel, all are restored, so we thank God there is a grace in the sea when we open.

During closures, the octopus, I saw how it realised that you are not hunting, it becomes very calm, like a normal fish and it comes crawling and you may catch it easily.  

But you know for us divers, now the project has stopped, life is still normal, other days you get, other days you miss. Octopus have not disappeared, even without closing they will still reproduce, they can move and change environment, when it’s cold there are plenty, when it’s hot they go very far and even divers can’t reach them. They are protected by God and not through a closure. When we die, octopus will still be there

The closure is productive yes but also has negative impacts, on our side, because when you close the coast, you get profit but when we close the conflicts arise, some will agree and others will refuse.

They blame the divers because they feel envious of us, they think we are the ones who benefit much, we are few and those who go fishing octopus on foot are many, when the water level is high they cannot go, we can. They don’t trust the divers. They become greedy, when they see the many octopus at the openings they think to themselves that if there is octopus here in the shallows imagine the plenty in the deep, where the divers go. 

At Ramadhan they laugh together because they know that the we the divers don’t dive, they become so happy, but when the Ramadhan ends and we are free, there is no peace, there will be no cooperation

To have closures again some few things must happen. 

We need a reliable market for octopus, we are selling very low, research should be done into how the market will be. If it is promising then we can close but if the market is not stable, no need to close, it is better to stay without, even if we get only 2kg, we will have soup with our children, only that!

We need stronger leaders to train us, who could explain to us the profit and loss obtained from the octopus closure. When that kind of education will be provided within the village, everybody will understand and we will agree, rather than directing us, the people of lower ranks to “go and call the people so that you can talk about the issues of the coast”. 

These leaders we have assigned, their responsibility is to stop the destructive kind of fisheries, also the government. We cannot preserve for guests to come from outside with blast and drag nets, pirates. Punishments need to happen to those who break the rules, there needs to be follow up and the fines need to be big enough to discourage.

We the divers are affected but because we want this closure thing, we have no way out, we go to other works like farming, animal keeping because if we continue to depend on that coast we will suffer, as we used to suffer at first when closure came, but now we have different ways of searching for income.

Divers as the main octopus fishers need the government in cooperation with small companies to support us because we cannot close the coast while we don’t have the projects to help us, and we in this place are many.

Listen to the full episode here:


Our OctoPINTS project has officially been running for two years (and 4months)! This is a slightly delayed annual report of our activities and outputs for the second year and a bit more from June 2020 to October 2021. Please find a pdf version of the report here.

OctoPINTS Background

OctoPINTS May 2021 – Maja, Liz, Emilie, Jineth and Tim trying out a social distancing workshop with Rose, Andrew, and Benni on Zoom.

The OctoPINTS project is based on the belief that the intersection between participatory empirical research and agent-based modeling is a useful way to understand critical aspects of sustainability in small-scale fisheries. In collaboration with researchers from Sweden (Emilie Lindkvist, Liz Drury O’Neill, Tim Daw, Maja Schlüter), Kenya (Andrew Wamukota) and Tanzania (Rosemarie Mwaipopo) we have continued our exciting work that started back in 2019. This last year has included fieldwork data analysis, agent-based modeling, and online expert workshops, a storytelling series, as well as several conference presentations. This document summarizes the key activities and outputs that we have accomplished during the second year within the OctoPINTS project.

Overarching Project Aims

  1. Untangle what defines success of Octopus closures for different stakeholders in Zanzibar and across the Western Indian Ocean (WIO).
  2. Identify the mechanisms leading to successful outcomes in Zanzibar and across the WIO
  3. Reveal the trade-offs between short- and long-term outcomes and between different social groups within fishing communities in Zanzibar.
  4. Understand fishers and fish workers’ perceptions of closures in Zanzibar in different points in time and how that affects fishers’ motivations and actions.

We take a gendered perspective and thus include gender and gendered processes in our understanding of success, mechanisms, and trade-offs as well as in the models we develop.

Co-developed research questions

  1. Which factors influence the closure model design, compliance and outcomes under different conditions? Such as community relations, neighbors & migrant fishers, history of conservation, tourism, national policies, power relations and roles (by gender, age, class/wealth), enforcement agencies or NGOs.
  2. How does the closure model design process influence compliance and outcomes?
    For example, with respect to participation, equity, agency, communication and information sharing, design of closure.
  3. How do different fishery actors perceive the process and outcomes? And how are different social groups affected by the closures?

How do outcomes of the closure model reinforce or change future closures and community dynamics? E.g., relationships between fishery actors, agency and capacity, institutional dynamics, closure design.

Expanding the team

Two brilliant minds joined us during 2021. Jineth Berrío-Martínez, who will work on her master’s thesis with the tentative title “Exploring complexities of octopus fishery closures: a case study from Zanzibar, Tanzania”. She will do a rapid literature review on Octopus cyanea, review topics in our fieldwork, and make expert interviews to design and model the characteristic of the octopus and analyze the social-ecological outcomes of periodic octopus closures. Very exciting! Starting mid-August for 2.5 months we had the opportunity to have Benedetta Veneroni, from the University of Freiburg, doing her internship with us to learn agent-based modeling, engage in a research environment, and explore the topic of masculinities within the OctoPINTS fieldwork and in SSF. You can read her reflections from her internship (Veneroni, 2021a) and about her work on masculinities (Veneroni, 2021b) in our blog. Earlier in 2021 we also hosted SRC master student Anna Garre during a one-month internship on Intersectionality, one of our key OctoPINTS topics. She interviewed Liz among other researchers about how they approach intersectionality in their work as well as hosted a seminar discussion “Why care about Intersectionality?” and published her internship work in this blogpost “Intersectionality – of growing interest to social-ecological systems research”. In addition Anna also has worked with translation of our work into French (see the fieldwork section below).

Activities and outreach

This year we spent our time analyzing fieldwork data from our three Zanzibari sites and building the agent-based model. The planned second round of fieldwork had to be postponed due to COVID. The first round however has been shared through stories, available on our website and at Spotify and is soon to be shared through the publication “Compliance, complexity and cephalopods–Contested responses to collaborative marine natural resource management” led by Liz (Drury O’Neill et al., In Preparation), as well as in the model “The OctoSim Model: Compliance and periodic fisheries closures”, a beta version of which can be found at CoMSES (Lindkvist, 2021)

Expert workshop Sept 2021

During our weekly Tuesday mini-meetings involving Emilie, Tim and Liz, we have been discussing theories and frameworks for analyzing the fieldwork data in addition to other practicalities. We complemented these meetings during Autumn with a couple of modeling sessions involving Maja, our students Benedetta and Jineth. Benedetta and Jineth also joined us for our yearly OctoPINTS team meeting which happened over three days in September. This event included a half day expert workshop where we invited scientists and practitioners working with octopus closures from the WIO region, including those who had participated in our 2019 WIOMSA session in Mauritius. The online expert workshop sparked many interesting discussions based on the fieldwork results shared by Liz, through a story-telling exercise, and through Emilie presenting the model. Thanks to Tim’s excellent facilitation skills as well as tech and planning support by Benedetta and Jineth we were able to have multiple break out discussions and plenaries on compliance, collaboration and intervention-dynamics throughout the WIO. This session was invaluable to the progress as well as quality of our work and we are very grateful to those that participated and so actively engaged in the workshop.

Our poster at UDSM research week in Sociology and Anthropology at CoSS.

In May 2021 Rosemarie presented our research project at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Research Week, an event at UDSM where all research projects are presented and where participants prepare materials and the university prepare the final posters. Rosemarie and the OctoPINTS project were among the three research projects selected as best projects at the College of Social Science level and was then presented in the final University level Research week where projects from all disciplines are displayed. Our project was also selected for display [as part of UDSM] at the National Saba-Saba Celebrations of 2021, held for 10 days at the Mwalimu Nyerere International Trade Fair Grounds. The Saba-Saba celebrations are an annual event held for two weeks and climaxes on 7th July. These celebrations bring together academic, research, service, business, philanthropist and other innovations every year.

TBTI Session. Between June 2nd and 8th 2021 the international small-scale fisheries research partnership Too Big To Ignore (TBTI) virtually hosted 40 sessions run by 70 different organizations in celebration of World Oceans Week 2021 on the theme ‘Life and Livelihoods’. The open house focused on 5 main themes- 1) Wellbeing and food security; 2) Gender & dignity; 3) Change & resilience; 4) Justice & equity; and 5) Capacity & prospects. OctoPINTS took part in the Justice and Equity Day hosting an hour long session (Check out the full session on youtube). We focused the session on methodologies for understanding how small-scale fishery interventions are experienced, understood and simulated by stakeholders and researchers. We spotlighted the rapidly spreading periodic octopus closure in the WIO. The session reflected on multiple understandings and explorations of what ‘success’ means for this intervention process, particularly in the long term. The session led to fruitful discussions about the methodologies and perspectives of researching dimensions of equity or justice in a small-scale fishery context- where power imbalances and social marginalization often characterize aspects of who and how people access, participate and benefit from interventions (Drury O’Neill et al., 2021).

We participated in the MARE conference 2021 where Liz presented our work with emphasis on the fieldwork results in her presentation “The politics of compliance in marine protected areas- the case of octopus closures”, and Emilie presented with focus on the modeling work at the Social Simulations Conference ”Understanding complexities in small-scale fisheries: Combining stories and simulations”. The latter will be published as a part of a conference series.

Liz and Emilie presenting at SwAM

We also had the opportunity to present at Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM), in the network group for gender equity and human rights (Swe- Havs och vatten myndigheten, Nätverksgruppen för jämställdhet och rättigheter). SwAM is the government agency tasked to protect, restore and ensure sustainable use of freshwater resources and seas including fisheries management, with a strong focus in the WIO region. Emilie and Liz presented the project and Liz read Nuru’s story.

Benedetta and Liz organized a well-attended seminar on Watery Masculinities with the Stewardship and Transformative futures Theme and Complexities Theme seminar at SRC where they presented theories and fieldwork reflections around masculinities. She chose the exciting topic of masculinities in fisheries and attempted to model these (Veneroni, 2021b), as well as organized a much appreciated seminar on masculinities at the SRC. We hope to have her back again soon and wish her the best of luck in her next internship at the FAO fisheries division in the gender team– and with finishing her master’s program and thesis (maybe with us!).

We also shared our work in the SES-LINK research group of which Maja, Emilie, Liz are members as well as Jineth and Benedetta during their time with OctoPINTS. Benedetta led a fun session on her learning experiences from the internship and had all participants reflect and take a trip down memory lane into our own struggles starting out on our science careers – what have you overcome? What are you still working on?

The fieldwork: analysis & paper

Data analysis and paper writing have been ongoing for a year but now the paper is finally taking shape. The paper “Compliance, complexity and cephalopods–Contested responses to collaborative marine natural resource management” focuses on breaking out the social complexity of communities as a key feature of difference in how environmental and governance changes are experienced by the various types of people involved or impacted. We aim to showcase the diverse understandings of compliance as a major influencer of participatory or collaborative marine conservation interventions, exemplifying the complexity inherent to the process and the types of experiences that can emerge. Non-compliance or rule-breaking is taken as a focus as it arose from grounded qualitative methods as pertinent to many research participants. Compliance behaviour is central to the efficacy of natural resource management while at the same time provides us a chance to better understand the wide variety of contested interests involved in interventions like protected areas or fishery closures. Through the presentation of a narrative combining data from three interpretive methods we depict the heterogeneity and conflict ingrained in understandings and experiences of community-based fishery closures across six participant types in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Periodic octopus closures are taken as a case study intervention due to their rapid uptake across the WIO but also history in traditional marine resource management in Zanzibar. Our discussion looks at responses to rules, rule breaking and rulebreakers in this context through topics of inequality, motivationsorjustificationsofnon-complianceandnotionsofmasculinity, among others. Such a focus enabled us to expose tensions between resource user groups within the process and access a multiplicity of responses to the intervention and its perceived impacts. Through continuous sorting and discussions of different ideas the final working paper from the field is “Compliance, complexity and cephalopods–Contested responses to collaborative marine natural resource management” and is planned for submission before the end of the year.

The agent-based model

During the year the agent-based modeling has developed into at least a beta version! The model is published at CoMSES, The Network for Computational Modeling in Social and Ecological Sciences (CoMSES, 2019), and goes under the name “The OctoSim Model: Compliance and periodic fisheries closures (Beta) (version 1.0.0)”.

The purpose of the model is to explore how processes associated with compliance across different fishery actors’ social groups interplay with their acceptance of a fishery intervention, herein periodic closures of a small-scale octopus fishery. The model agents, entities (Figure 1) and processes (Figure 2) are designed based on stylized facts from literature and expert workshops on periodic closures in the Western Indian Ocean region, as well as fieldwork from Zanzibari villages that have implemented periodic octopus closures. The model is designed for scientists and decision-makers that are interested in understanding the complex interplay between fishers from different social groups, herein foot fisher men, foot fisher women and male skin divers or free divers within the periodic closure of an octopus species. Including various actions resulting from the restrictions, i.e., opportunities, temptation, or needs to poach as a consequence from restricting fishing in certain areas and during certain times. For the next steps we will continue sharing the model with experts for more feedback and explore scenarios for a publication associated with the model.

The OctoSim model visual interface. Free reefs in green and closure reefs in orange. Deeper reefs in darker colors where only divers can hunt octopus. The little gray dots are octopus of different sizes. Foot fishing women in orange, foot fishing men in blue, and divers in brown.
Model flowcharts. The left represents the processes when the closure is open and the right when the closure is closed.

Future outlook – 2022 The Final Year!

Our project is in its final year and we have until the end of June 2022 before our 3 years have passed. In our upcoming activities we hope to revisiting our sites in Zanzibar, perform some follow-up fieldwork and hosting a final stakeholder and expert workshop. We are very excited about upcoming Master’s Thesis and internship results and publications related to our work. We also want to take the opportunity to congratulate Liz who will continue with her own project after OctoPINTS. For the next four years she has been granted a mobility grant from The Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas) titled “Patrons of the Seas: Rethinking patron-client relationships in small-scale fisheries” . We look forward to engaging and to sharing our work with you all through the final year. Best wishes, the OctoPINTS team.

See ya next year! Workshop lunch at Santa Salsa Stockholm, Benni, Emilie, Tim, Torbjörn (Emilie’s dad), Liz, and Jineth

List of Outputs


CoMSES, 2019. The Network for Computational Modeling in Social and Ecological Sciences [WWW Document]. URL https://www.comses.net/ (accessed 2.13.16).

Drury O’Neill, E., 2021a. Nuru’s Story. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/09/01/nurus-story/ (accessed 10.27.21).

Drury O’Neill, E., 2021b. Story: The End. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/10/02/the-end/ (accessed 10.27.21).

Drury O’Neill, E., 2021c. Introduction à la série d’histoires “personnages des fermetures de zone à la pêche : expériences humaines des projets de gestion et de conservation marine.” OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/10/27/introduction-a-la-serie-dhistoires-personnages-des-fermetures-de-zone-a-la-peche-experiences-humaines-des-projets-de-gestion-et-de-conservation-marine/ (accessed 10.27.21).

Drury O’Neill, E., 2021d. L’histoire de Nuru. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/10/27/lhistoire-de-nuru/ (accessed 10.27.21).

Drury O’Neill, E., 2021e. La Fin. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/11/04/la-fin/ (accessed 11.13.21).

Drury O’Neill, E., Lindkvist, E., Daw, T., Mwaipopo, R., Wamukota, A., Schlüter, M., Veneroni, B., In Preparation. Compliance, complexity and cephalopods–Contested responses to collaborative marine natural resource management.

Drury O’Neill, E., Lindkvist, E., Daw, T.M., 2021. Stories and simulations of octopus closures in the Western Indian Ocean. Small-Scale Fisheries Openhouse with the TBTI (Too Big To Ignore) Research Partnership- In celebration of World Oceans Week 2021. URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqW8XT8yu2s&list=PLMwWC8hfI8PsDQ3_O4bNX0QMsZpv-8gbt&index=27

Garre, A., 2021. Intersectionality – of growing interest to social-ecological systems research. Social-ecological systems Scholars. URL https://sesscholars.wordpress.com/2021/09/15/intersectionality-of-growing-interest-to-social-ecological-systems-research/ (accessed 11.17.21).

Lindkvist, E., 2021. The OctoSim Model: Compliance and periodic fisheries closures (Beta).

Lindkvist, E., Veneroni, B., Daw, T.M., Drury O’Neill, E., Berrío-Martínez, J., 2021. Stories and Simulations: Compliance and Periodic Octopus Closures in the WIO region. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden, https://octopints.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/lindkvist_et_al_stories_and_simulations_workshop_report_octopints_2021.pdf.

Veneroni, B., 2021a. FOCUS-MODEL-ENGAGE: An Intern’s Experience of Complexity (in) Research. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/11/03/focus-model-engage-an-interns-experience-of-complexity-in-research/ (accessed 11.13.21).

Veneroni, B., 2021b. Gender Beyond Women: Exploring Zanzibari Masculinities for Octopus Closures’ Compliance. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/11/11/gender-beyond-women-exploring-zanzibari-masculinities-for-octopus-closures-compliance/ (accessed 11.11.21).

Gender Beyond Women: Exploring Zanzibari Masculinities for Octopus Closures’ Compliance

By Benedetta Veneroni

I’m Benedetta, a Master student of Environmental Governance at the University of Freiburg (Germany). Below is a brief essay summarising my exploration of Zanzibari masculinities- the chosen focus of my internship with the OctoPINTS team.

What constitutes a man, a fisher and a poacher? Why are young male divers in Zanzibar pointed out as conducting poaching during octopus closures? And are Zanzibari masculinities to be problematised as performing dominance or should they instead be viewed at the intersection between power and oppression?

Through a 2.5 months internship within the OctoPINTS project I got the chance to explore the above questions. My internship led to a journey of discovery of Zanzibari communities, where closures– spatio-temporal blocks on the fishing of octopus – have been adopted to ensure more sustainable extractive practices. Here I followed the OctoPINTS team, tackling the successes and failures of octopus closures and the heterogeneous acceptance of their application in a context of unequal access to resources. 

Within OctoPINTS I got to focus on masculinities, to better understand the drivers of young male divers’ non-compliance and envision ways to ensure a more equitable and sustainable community management of common resources. The pathway to a deeper personal understanding of Zanzibari masculinities started with a scoping review on masculinity studies and their application in small-scale fisheries (SSF), in order to gain a theoretical base for my work. This review, together with a ‘masculinity-focused’ analysis of OctoPINTS fieldwork data from 2019, informed my Agent Based Modelling, aiming at defining potential causes of low closures’ acceptance through the integration of a masculinity variable. Finally, a workshop titled Watery Masculinities was conducted together with Liz Drury O’Neill to present the latest literature at the intersection of fisheries, masculinities and transformations and engage in a dialogue on the meaning of masculinity and its adoption in sustainability research. 

The following blog post aims at sharing the findings of my internship to inform future research on Zanzibari masculinities.

How does one define masculinity?

“What does the word masculinity mean to you?” The latter question kickstarted the workshop on Watery Masculinities, leading to very similar answers in nature. Many participants related masculinity to the societal expectations attached to it. Among others, words like dominance, strength, ego, shame & guilt, toxicity and repression were used, delineating a specific perception of the masculine identity. The latter appeared to be a one-dimensional and static reality, in binary contrast with the feminine and with little space for reinvention. Using a theoretical lens, one could perceive the definitions of the participants as attributes of hegemonic masculinity (Connell, 1995), a societal expectation towards male individuals to exercise dominance and power over subordinate identities (i.e. women, queer identities and sub-alternate racial and class identities). Nonetheless, since the achievement of hegemonic masculinity has been historically only applicable to white, male, rich, heterosexual, able-bodied identities, this has left a space for a multitude of subordinate masculinities to exist at the intersection of dominance and oppression. 

In the fishery context, social constructions of manhood shaped by the seascape and by the occupational culture of fishing, have been addressed as Maritime Masculinities– a set of globally shared norms linking masculinity to the seascape (Allison, nd). Despite the affinities that one could find among fisheries around the globe, a Maritime Masculinity lens might result in the construction of a singular fisherman identity, one unconscious of the global-to-local intersectionalities of power on which each fishery is constructed. Instead, a Watery Masculinity theory- conceptualising masculinities at sea as watery, changeable and context dependent (Bull, 2019)- represented to me a better-suited instrument to examine Zanzibari divers. 

What constructs Zanzibari divers’ identities?

Male diver catching an octopus

Trying to define the situated masculinities of the Zanzibari divers, without being fully acquainted with the cultural context, has resulted in a recurrent conflict over my biases as a white European woman researcher, only tamed by the use of a forcibly intersectional Watery Masculinity approach. From the analysis conducted over the past OctoPINTS fieldwork (see the blog by Liz Drury O’Neill, 2019) I could come up with a set of behaviours that seemed to be adopted by a small set of Zanzibari divers, attributable at times to dominant patterns of masculinity, at times to subordinate or oppressed identities. The study remains nonetheless incomplete when trying to define Zanzibari masculinities, due to insufficient data and contextual knowledge. The aim is therefore only to introduce the topic of masculinities, to allow for its potential adoption as a lens to further interpret issues of compliance and acceptance across Zanzibari fishing communities.

In my analysis of the qualitative data I discovered that many community members referred to young male divers as the main enactors of poaching and often described them as violent and arrogant. Interviewees shared instances of coercion exercised by the young skin divers over patrolling guards (often community members, among whom women) to silence them after a poaching event. The enactment of physical force and violence over subordinate identities represented to me a clear example of hegemonic masculinity at play. Forms of group identity among young skin divers were described by interviewees as fuelling resistance and illegal resource extraction. The lack of participation in community meetings over octopus closures might have represented an act of resistance of male divers towards authorities. It might also have resulted in the further enhancement of disapproval over closures, given the lack of education received regarding the benefits of octopus’ conservation. 

Nonetheless, the dissatisfaction enhancing divers’ poaching should not only be perceived as fuelled by hegemonic tendencies, but, as reported by interviewees, as the result of poverty, lack of livelihood opportunities and political turmoil. Divers have been particularly described as only relying on fishing, therefore lacking alternative sources of income. The inability of divers to accumulate the necessary wealth to start a family and buy a house reveals the unattainable expectations of masculinity in a patriarchal society exercised in a context of poverty. This renders such masculinities subordinate, because ‘imperfect’ and oppressed. 

The majority of community members interviewed pointed at young male divers as enactors of poaching. This, coupled with the presence of literature relating masculinities with illegal activities at sea (Fabinyi, 2007), might result in a biased perception of the researcher on “who it is to blame”. Therefore, without clear data testifying poaching events, it remains important to consider subjectivities and potential causes leading individuals to blame specific social groups. 

Where do we go from here?

Octopus soup being cooked

My engagement with masculinities has contributed to a deeper personal understanding of the complexities of SSF, pushing me to find the invisible causalities leading to the success and/or failure of community-led conservation approaches. The focus led me to look beyond the idea that ‘gender equates to women’, and forced me to realise the existence of patters of subordination experienced by masculine identities in Zanzibar. 

Nonetheless, the analysis conducted on Zanzibari masculinities reveals only little about the watery nature of young skin divers. A deeper research on the subjectivities of Zanzibari divers should be conducted to better define the reasons bringing divers to poach and inform of potential pathways towards higher community acceptance of closures. Engaging in the Zanzibari fishery context by studying masculinities might represent a hidden leverage point towards a more profound, long-term success of closures. Understanding hegemonic and subordinate masculinity behaviours as well as engaging with men in educational programs on alternative, positive, ecological masculinities (Morgan, 2014) might contribute not only to a more equitable society but to a more sustainable use of the natural environment. 

The Internship was a mandatory part of the Master in Environmental Governance (MEG) at the University of Freiburg (Germany), sponsored by Erasmus+.


Allison, E.H., 2013. Maritime Masculinities – and why they matter for management.

Bull, J., 2009. Watery Masculinities: Fly-Fishing and the Angling Male in the South West of England. Gender, Place and Culture 16 (4): 445–465. Collins, 1990.

Connell, R., 1995. Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Fabinyi, M., 2007. Illegal fishing and masculinity in the Philippines: a look at the Calamianes Islands in Palawan. Philippine Studies 55, 509–529.

Morgan M. 2014. Measuring gender transformative change. Penang, Malaysia: CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems. Program Brief: AAS- 2014-41.

Stories and Simulations: Compliance and Periodic Octopus Closures in the WIO region

The amazing experts that joined our workshop September 2021.

In September 2021 we hosted a three hour online workshop to present our work and get feedback and discuss together with experts around temporal octopus closure models in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region. The objectives of this meeting were to:

  1. Reconnect and build on the network established at Wiomsa 2019 and facilitate discussions between expert participants.
  2. Share and discuss findings from our empirical work on perceptions of closures and compliance in Zanzibar.
  3. Share and invite comments on the scope and behaviour of our octopus closure agent-based model.

The workshop demonstrated how a combined fieldwork, modelling and expert consultation process helps to develop systems understanding. The sharing of the fieldwork results through storytelling, painted a deep and rich description of how local fishery actors perceived the closure model’s intricate dilemmas around compliance. The sharing of the agent based model’s design, such as fishery actors and processes around compliance and patrolling, sparked discussions around interactions of the different components in the closure model. These two approaches of studying and presenting the issues around interventions herein the closure model in turn lead to deeper discussions around the social and ecological dynamics embedded in the closure model. 

This blog contains the first part of the Workshop Report, but you can download the full report here.

What experiences and knowledge was shared by participants?

Despite the variety of geographical, cultural and historical realities in which participants situated their work, the social mechanisms of compliance characteristics in Zanzibar were jointly experienced by workshop participants. They highlighted a plethora of factors shaping compliance in their local contexts, such as weather conditions, seasonality of closures and supporting livelihoods and food security. Social consensus was particularly regarded as a key attribute of compliance, the former being influenced by factors such as community consensus prior to starting a closure project, engaging actors such as commercial buyers,the presence of strong leaders and feelings of trust and pride towards closures. On the contrary, participants stated elements like intrusion of outsiders, and kinship relations impeding rule enforcement while blame towards other social groups’ activities also damaged compliance. Participants shared their experiences concerning the technicalities of closures. Here, closure entering schemes (who could enter at what point in time), levies, and income distribution at openings were mentioned, and the importance of allowing for appropriate placement of closures e.g. avoiding coincidence with other protected areas. A learning-by-doing approach for conservation’s success was emphasised,  one considering the geography and history of usage in the chosen closure area. This approach was regarded as an important tool to ensure flexibility and facilitate the achievement of community consensus over closures.

What outstanding questions, concerns & ideas emerged?

On Biological Dynamics: The biological dynamics characteristic of octopus closures were deeply discussed during the workshop, in light of the current quite simple representation of the octopus population model. Depending on the purpose of the current OctoPINTS model (or the usefulness of other future models) the need for including biological and ecological mechanisms were mentioned as these aspects may contribute to a better understanding of these interventions. Notably these mechanisms are not yet fully investigated empirically.

Participants proposed a plethora of dynamics to potentially integrate into the OctoPINTS model, such as growth and replacement rates, spawning potential, habitat preferences, seasonal variability and age-dependent mobility. Climate change was also mentioned as a threat to reef health, leading to higher uncertainty of the above parameters. After considering the various biological factors adding complexity to the current OctoPINTS model, participants asked themselves how much of such complexity was needed if the purpose is looking at compliance and fishery actors’ perceptions of the closure. As adding too much complexity might instead compromise the efficacy of the model. 

On Social Dynamics: Thoughts and questions on social dynamics flourished during the discussion, leaving us with various inspirations for future research and future models. Topics such as community’s heterogeneity and inequality were analysed. Here, questions were raised on the potential for measuring community cohesion levels and their effects on compliance in reality but also how to formalize into the model. Furthermore, individuals’ interaction to closures was examined as uniquely shaping compliance and acceptance. The example of women gleaners was proposed, describing the negative effects that the mismatching of tides and openings might have on their access, income, and ultimately on their acceptance of the closure model. Solutions to tackle intrinsic heterogeneity of communities were advanced away from blaming certain non-compliant groups of people, to promoting the distribution of “disproportional benefits” to those individuals who were the most “disproportionately disadvantaged” (e.g. fisherwomen or octopus dependent skin divers). The diversity of issues across communities was also mentioned. Examples include communities struggling with outsiders entering the fishery, but also positive examples where communities experienced successful projects, e.g. when combined with government funded alternative livelihoods, or previous experience of programmes or interventions helped communities better organize to implement the closure model. To have all different groups in a community involved and have consensus on a new project project, and the question of how to get there was also raised.

Ethical considerations on the contextual setting of non-compliance were raised, highlighting the need to consider global-to-local structures of power, ultimately shaping in some part illegal activities in closures. From here, there was a call for NGOs to take sensitive action at the local scale, specifically the continuous consultations with communities from a project’s start. The question of bottom-up was raised, are these interventions really so if it is often fishery managers and officers who drive and implement the project, in this way closures are still top down, however the top is closer to the bottom. Finally, the use of the OctoPINTS model was proposed as a way to allow managers to better understand and experiment with the complexities of adaptively managing fisheries

What will the OctoPINTS project do next with workshop results?

Model development

This workshop held two aims for the model, firstly to share the current model and get feedback on its current design with particular focus on key mechanisms and processes such as compliance and acceptance. Second, we are complexifying the biological and ecological components of the model, partly through a master’s thesis within the OctoPINTS project, so we intentionally focused the workshop on getting input for that part of the model. 

The current OctoPINTS model will be updated with smaller fishing grounds for the deep reefs and the divers. The growth model will likely be a choice of the Herwig et al. (2012) who worked with free octopus, rather than van Heukelem (1973) who had them in captivity. Include the individual economic benefits from one opening to another. Foot fishers fishing in the free area will be in relation to tides, however noting we are really only concerned with the closure dynamics so this is primarily to include some more realism. We will look into fishers moving to favourite areas versus moving random. 

The scenarios we explore with the model, will be informed by the diversity of context that we have learned from this workshop. This means looking at different contexts that represent different community characteristics to see based on the included model processes, which community type has higher or lower probability to develop or maintain high acceptability of closures and make them successful.

Empirical investigations

As a result of our workshop we summarize questions that came up during the workshop as potential future investigations. Can we rethink and reevaluate what really contributes to increased or decreased acceptance? And the same for compliance. Is individual compliance more affected by a) individual acceptance, or b) the acceptance of the community as a whole (representing social pressure), or the c) acceptance in their peer groups (e.g., fellow skin divers). How does the issue of pride and identity contribute to compliance and acceptance? How does trust in compliance play a role? As an example – I trust my peers completely, but do I trust that others comply? What is the influence of that on acceptance of the closure model? What is the role of market dynamics with regards to export of the octopus, and how does it link to compliance and the acceptance of the closure model? However, we are not sure to what degree we will be able to explore these questions within our project timeline. 

Summary of future dream outputs

Just before closing the workshop we asked participants to dream away and Tim asked what they would like to see as next steps. Everyone had a go at this question! “I would be interested to see how the model and/or fieldwork can represent ____”. 

  • The model should take into consideration the biological, ecological, fishery related characteristics – to be able to propose management measures for the species.
  • More biological influences in the model. How do we measure social cohesion and how does it affect the model?
  • Interesting to have a model to ensure adaptive management. Is there potential for a real-time model that could be applied at the local community level? Interesting question that we’d love to discuss in a future conversation.
  • The wider impacts on biodiversity that the octopus fishery has (e.g. the reef, bycatch, biological diversity)
  • There is potentially so much that could be added to the model. Global warming and how it affects growth parameters. Although there is only so much to be added in order not to compromise the efficacy of the model.
  • My lens now is responding to the critiques of community cohesion and homogeneity and learning to live with the disensus, discussing the critiques laid against Ostrom and CBNRM in failing to grapply with heterogeneity and conflict. 
  • How does the NGO consult with the community at the start of the project? There will be more emphasis in making sure that procedures such as FPIC (Free, Prior and Informed Consent) are used. Having a focus on compliance pre-conservation projects and wondering if that could be a factor that could be added to the model. How thorough was the consultation process? Also, does it make a difference who breaks the rules? Is it a woman gleaner, a village leader, are they going to have different influences on the level of compliance? And then apply different fines to different people.
  • Great, interesting model! a need or question: how to include additional biological components? And how much do biological components influence compliance beyond the financial benefits? Are we adding (unnecessary) complexity by adding all this detail? 
  • Fascinating to continue with the discussion and summarise complexity and agree on some objectives. The model could be used for discussion. Market dynamics are not considered much, but could be enriching the model.

We, the OctoPINTS team, are truly grateful for the deep engagement of the participants in the workshop and are keen to continue collaboration within this network to further develop the model, disseminate knowledge on closure dynamics and explore how the OctoPINTS project can contribute to sustainable collaborative fishery management in the region. Warm wishes, the OctoPINTS participants Emilie, Tim, Liz, Andrew, Benedetta, and Jineth and OctoPINTS members Rosemarie Mwaipopo and Maja Schlüter who were not able to participate.


The OctoPINTS research project (https://octopints.wordpress.com/), a transdisci- plinary research project based at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden and funded by the Swedish Research Council Dnr 2018-05862.


Workshop prepared by Emilie Lindkvist, Elizabeth (Liz) Drury O’Neill, Tim Daw, Benedetta Veneroni, and Jineth Berrío-Martínez. Contributions of all the participants of the session as listed at the end of this report.


Fishery Closures, Collaborative Conservation, Closure models, WIO region, Story telling, Agent-based modeling, Octopus, Small-scale fisheries.

Suggested Citation

Lindkvist, E, Veneroni, B., Daw, T., Drury O’Neill, L., Berrío-Martínez, J. (2021). Stories and Simulations: Compliance and Periodic Octopus Closures in the WIO region. Workshop Report. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden.

La Fin

Nous vous invitons à découvrir ce deuxième épisode de notre série d’histoires “personnages des fermetures de zone à la pêche ».

L’histoire qui suit narre une désintégration, l’effondrement d’un projet de fermeture de la pêche au poulpe. L’histoire est racontée dans le contexte d’une réunion organisée par le comité de la pêche et qui réunit l’ensemble de la communauté.

“Regardez” dit Pandu à ses collègues du comité de pêche alors qu’ils se trouvaient devant le bâtiment de l’école du village, en train d’attendre que les gens arrivent à la réunion communautaire, “souvenez-vous quand Ali Said a attrapé ce poulpe de 6 kg à la deuxième réouverture de la zone fermée, cela m’a fait comprendre que lorsque l’on conserve notre espace naturel, ce que l’on pêche aura de la valeur, même dans le monde où nous le vendons, ce genre de capture montre qu’il y a un réel besoin de conserver, que lorsqu’on conserve, on obtient quelque chose qui a du sens”.

“Oui Pandu, nous te soutenons” dit Fatma, le secrétaire du comité de pêche, “je veux que ce projet redémarre, on peut développer à partir de là, on peut avoir un développement ici »

« Je pense que nous tous au comité voulons que ce projet recommence Pandu, mais nous ne pouvons pas permettre que la communauté se déchire à nouveau, comme ce fut le cas précédemment » ajouta Hamis, un autre membre du comité de pêche.

Ils se remémorent collectivement les conflits et désaccords entre les différents groupes de villageois à propos du projet de conservation, qui fut en conséquence forcé de prendre fin deux ans plus tôt. Pandu se souvint des gens se disputant à la Mosquée, même aux funérailles, à propos du projet, des poulpes et des voleurs. Cela était même allé au point où les gens se détestaient, si quelqu’un ne soutenait pas le projet, ils étaient aliénés. Le comité, avait dû le dire à l’ONG, celle qui était venue mettre en place les fermetures de pêche au poulpe dans les récifs, que le conflit empirait sur l’île. L’ONG était venu, et même le département de la pêche, ils avaient eu des réunions dans les villages, mais s’étaient confrontés avec les plus têtus, ils avaient réalisé que le problème ne venait pas du comité mais de certains membres de la communauté. Nous, le comité, ne sommes pas le problème. L’ONG et le gouvernement se retrouvèrent coincés et décidèrent de laisser le processus entre nos mains. L’ONG dit qu’elle mettrait fin au projet à cause de tous les malentendus créés, qu’il fallait d’abord résoudre tous les doutes avant de commencer le projet de conservation à nouveau.

« Eh bien voilà où nous sommes deux ans plus tard » refléta Pandu à ses collègues, « mais je pense que nous sommes proches, commençons cette campagne ».

« J’espère que nous le sommes Pandu, une côte qui n’est pas fermée, un espace sans fermetures, n’a aucun développement, n’importe quel espace avec une fermeture à la pêche aura de bons résultats, les bénéfices seront pour la communauté, mais aussi l’ONG et le Gouvernement, qui en tireront un revenu.

Lorsque nous conservons, nous serons visités par des ONG, comme lorsque cette fille irlandaise, Liz, est venue ici, si l’espace côtier n’est pas fermé, on ne peut pas avoir accès à ces personnes ». « Oui Hamis », répondit Pandu « en toute vérité, le fait qu’on ne ferme pas immédiatement signifie qu’on ne peut pas se développer, nous n’aurons pas de visiteurs et aucune histoire à raconter ».  

Fatma continua « auparavant nous étions célèbres pour nos poulpes, quand nous visitions d’autres endroits, les gens demandaient ahhh dans votre île il y a des poulpes, faites-moi un cadeau quand nous voyageons les gens demandent oh, comment vont les poulpes, il n’y a plus de poulpes maintenant. »

« Oui, c’est une perte en effet Fatma, dans le passé nous étions célèbres grâce à nos poulpes » ajouta Hamis, se tournant vers le reste du comité « Ce projet a du sens pour nous, les gens d’ici, pour de très nombreuses raisons. Mais nous avons besoin de la collaboration du Gouvernement central si nous voulons essayer de nouveau avec nos villages ici. Et comme l’ONG l’avait dit, on ne peut pas forcer le projet, c’est une question d’accord et de satisfaction, pas besoin de forcer, on peut aller de l’avant et réussir dans le futur, espérons qu’il y aura du calme à présent ».

Pandu regarda à travers la fenêtre et vit le chef du village, le Sheha, qui arrivait pour la réunion, suivi lentement par d’autres groupes de personnes qui faisaient leur chemin vers le bâtiment de l’école. Le comité prit place à leurs chaises, face à la salle alors que les villageois dépliaient leurs tapis et s’asseyaient face à eux, attendant qu’ils démarrent.

La réunion débuta avec des discussions regardant le malencontreux échec des fermetures de zone à la pêche, les raisons derrière cet échec, allons de l’avant à partir de ça.

« Écoutons les femmes qui pêchent sur la côte » invita le Sheha par-dessus le brouhaha des bavardages d’une centaine de villageois de deux villages de l’île. Deux ou trois des groupes les plus importants de femmes se firent entendre.

« Ce sont les plongeurs en apnée qui ont détruit la fermeture de la pêche, ils savaient que si c’était fermé, ils ne pourraient pas plonger, ils ne pourraient pas accéder à la zone fermée. Mais ils y vont, ils y allèrent » grommela une vieille femme.

Sa fille ajouta: « On ne peut pas les contrôler parce qu’ils peuvent s’engager dans l’eau à n’importe quel moment. Ils volèrent et volèrent, ce qui nous découragea tous de poursuivre la fermeture. Après que la décision de fermer fut prise, ils perturbèrent tout, ils avaient leurs propres réunions après les réunions communautaires où tout le monde était présent.”

Une autre pêcheuse ajouta : Oui, lors de la réunion pour la troisième fermeture les gens étaient contre le projet, ils crièrent non, les plongeurs en apnée dirent que la pêche devrait être ouverte et qu’ils se battraient contre n’importe qui qui essayerait de la fermer, ils dirent de laisser la côte ouverte et de voir ce qui se passerait. Les réunions prirent fin et lorsque les réouvertures eurent lieu, plus personne ne débarquait quoi que ce soit. Pourquoi la moitié de la communauté devrait s’enrichir pendant les fermetures grâce au vol alors que l’autre moitié souffre ? On abandonna les fermetures ».

« J’ai tendance à être d’accord avec vous mama » fit remarquer Pandu, « Je me souviens de la troisième réunion, où les gens ont commencé à ne plus être d’accord, on essaya de fermer une dernière fois après cela et c’est à cette réunion là que beaucoup d’entre vous refusèrent le projet, donc nous fûmes forcés d’y mettre fin. De jeunes hommes surgirent et causèrent des problèmes, pas seulement des plongeurs en apnée mais aussi des plongeurs avec des tubas. Nous, le comité, essayâmes d’infliger des amendes, et de mettre en application l’usage d’amendes mais certains refusèrent de payer.

« Tu sais quoi, kaka, frère, Pandu » entama une vendeuse de soupe au poulpe, « Je pense que ce projet prit fin parce que nous n’étions pas prêts, nous n’avons pas pris en compte ce qui nous avait été dit, et cela s’est terminé en disputes, nous n’avons pas donné leur chance à ces gens venus nous éduquer au sujet de la conservation. Si eux, ou d’autres étrangers ne reviennent pas ici, on ne peut pas recommencer ce projet car nous avons la tête dure.

Des rires étouffés parcoururent la foule.

« Dada, chère sœur, ce n’est pas moi qui est la tête dure, c’est celle des pêcheurs » répliqua un des principaux commerçants de poulpes de la région.

« Oui, kaka, dis-lui toi » confirma un autre commerçant. Le premier poursuivi : « le chaos qui prit place était entre les pêcheurs et les gens en charge du projet. Les pêcheurs sont ceux qui ont initié ce conflit. Aussi bien ceux qui plongent que ceux qui pêchent à pieds ont des problèmes ».

A ce moment-là, des cris indignés se firent entendre de la foule, alors que les pêcheurs de tout type de pêche se plaignirent de cette calomnie à leur égard. Le sheha se leva et le silence reprit la salle, permettant au commerçant de continuer.

« Les pêcheurs n’étaient pas satisfaits, ils ont peut-être donné leur accord pour fermer la zone, mais après un court moment ils ont perdu confiance et le chaos a commencé. Ils ont vu le revenu que la mer apporte après un mois et demi de fermeture à la pêche, et puis le chaos. Les plongeurs y sont allés, les pêcheurs à pieds ne pouvaient pas, le chaos ».

« Mais écoutez-moi » intercepta une pêcheuse, « si mon enfant pêche, je serais en désaccord avec ceux qui veulent fermer la côte , pourquoi la ferment-ils alors que nos enfants vont y chercher leur pain quotidien, parce que la côte appartient à Dieu, mais quand un bénéfice entre pour nous tous, c’est là que le conflit commence, j’insulterais celui qui a accepté que la côte ferme parce que j’ai mon enfant qui y pêche, je n’autoriserais pas que la côte ferme car mon enfant ne pourra pas plonger. »

« Je pense qu’il est temps que nous puissions parler », dit un jeune plongeur en apnée depuis le coin de la salle où il était assis avec ses compagnons. Une vague de murmures s’empara de la salle alors que les gens se tournaient pour voir lequel d’entre eux prenait la parole.

« Le projet de fermeture d’ici a pris fin car certains d’entre nous étaient en conflit » prit soin d’accentuer le plongeur, il y a les gens qui utilisaient l’espace qui fut choisi pour être fermé plus que d’autres, ils se sont plaints car ils dépendaient uniquement de la zone fermée, c’est cela la raison de la révolte, et ils ne veulent pas que la côte soit fermée car leur revenu dépend trop de la côte. » Ses compagnons acquiescèrent en signe d’accord.

« Qui sont ‘eux’ ! » cria quelqu’un depuis le fond de la salle. Le plongeur en apnée continua en haussant la voix”:

« Regardez, les gens volaient, les gens braconnaient, les gens ne respectaient pas les règles, les gens étaient pénalisés mais certains ne payaient pas, beaucoup d’argent n’était pas payé, vous pouviez même traîner quelqu’un au tribunal et il refusait de payer l’amende. »

« Oui ! » le rejoint son compagnon avec sincérité, « les gens arrêtèrent de payer leurs amendes, ils disparurent jusqu’à ce que le projet pris fin, en conséquence les gens dirent qu’on ne pouvait pas se rencontrer et discuter la côte car nous n’avions pas d’égalité de droit, les gens promettaient de payer puis ne le faisaient pas »

Dix minutes s’ensuivirent d’allers-retours entre commerçants, vendeurs de soupes et frituriers de poulpes, pêcheuses, pêcheurs à pieds, les plongeurs en apnée, les membres du comité,

« Nous n’avons pas besoin que ce conflit recommence » avertit une commerçante

« Mais dada, maintenant il n’y a aucun poulpe » souligna une pêcheuse « nous faisons confiance à Dieu parce qu’il nous a créé et lui seul sait comment nous allons survivre, »

« Que Dieu nous vienne en aide » répondirent quelques compagnons assis à côté d’elle.

« Dieu nous apporte la côte, afin que nous puissions l’utiliser pour nos propres bénéfices » rétorqua un plongeur en apnée

Le Sheha riposta « Bwana mdogo, jeune homme, sommes-nous autorisés d’utiliser tout ce que nous souhaitons simplement parce que cela nous est donné par Dieu ? Ou l’utilisons-nous avec sagesse afin que ces ressources soient durables ? »

Le plongeur en apnée l’ignora royalement et continua « nous pouvons coopérer maintenant, nous ici, la coopération existe maintenant car nous pouvons chacun aller ou nous le souhaitons sur la côte, contrairement à auparavant »

« Tu as raison mon garçon » réagit une pêcheuse plus âgée, « lorsque ce projet se termina, nous fûmes plus unis, les insultes prirent fin parce que la côte était libre, nous sommes maintenant plus unis, comme des proches, même père, même mère. Nous avons de nombreuses côtes, quand une fermeture a lieu dans cette côte ci, vous obtiendrez d’autres endroits, c’est le pays le plus riche mais nous le rendons pauvres car nous n’avons pas d’entente.

Translation by: Anna Garré


FOCUS-MODEL-ENGAGE: An Intern’s Experience of Complexity (in) Research

By Benedetta Veneroni

Reflections from @benniVeneroni on her “multi-fold learning journey towards understanding complexity, from the personal to the systemic level” while interning at @sthlmresilience in the #OctoPINTS research project.

My two-months internship within SRC’s OctoPINTS research project led to a short-term, intensive journey characterised by exploring theories to study systems, engaging and inserting myself in a new cultural and academic space and diving into the muddy waters of agent-based modelling. The variety of the above experiences could be merged in the three words- FOCUS, MODEL & ENGAGE- each of which will be briefly covered below.


Being allowed to build my learning experience as I wished has been mostly thrilling, at times disorienting. Many were the topics that could be further explored within OctoPINTS and I remember experiencing some initial doubt when choosing a focus of study. After a week of testing out topics, one in particular caught my attention while being met with excitement by the team. The adoption of short-term protected areas (defined as octopus closures) for the conservation of octopus in Zanzibar have been experienced differently by different social groups. In particular, young male divers were recognised by members of numerous communities to be more prone to poaching during closures compared to other individuals. What caused that? And could the study of such social groups bring insights into better management and acceptance of closures?

These questions kickstarted a journey of research into masculinity studies and gender studies in Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF), which constituted the theoretical base for my scoping review on Zanzibari masculinities. Being fond of the concept of intersectionality, I discovered the term ‘watery masculinities’- describing masculinities in the fishery sector as contextualised, watery, and fluid. I therefore decided to apply such a lens in my work, that is, to view the illegal fishing of the young Zanzibari males not as a problematic act but rather the result of relational, geographically and historically situated, global-to-local intersections of power and oppression. By adopting a view from nowhere, one could go as far as to criticise the use of the word “poacher” due to its negative connotation, resulting in the problematisation of all the individuals who conducted illegal fishing. Exploring masculine subjectivities in a non-European context led me to realise the relevance of accounting for my situated knowledge, that is, a personal view of the world constantly influencing my perception of the subjects of my study. I learnt that being conscious and critical of my biases constituted an important step to advance in research.


OctoPINTS has based its research process in the adoption of multiple methods for understanding complex social-ecological systems. One of them is the empirical fieldwork conducted by Liz Drury O’Neill which then informed the development of an agent-based model (ABM). Having found my focus in Zanzibari masculinities and compliance, I was then met with the thrilling opportunity to learn about ABM and work with the agent-based software tool, Netlogo, by inserting my code and thinking into the present OctoPINTS model. Nonetheless, my previous knowledge of the R software made me underestimate the time it would take for me to learn the basics of Netlogo, as well as chosing the most important variables to model, coding and analysing the model results. What I found difficult was to insert such a changeable, watery and interdependent variable like masculinity into the structure of the ABM. I also found the ‘exploratory’ and self-made approach of ABM disorienting at times. Having said that, despite recognising that the journey towards a confident use of ABM would definitely surpass the time of my internship at SRC, I still regard the time spent in understanding Netlogo as an important and necessary step to engage with complex systems. Furthermore, the feeling of not having completed my previously set objectives made clear to me the naturalness of constantly re-setting your goals, a process I have seen unfolding both within the OctoPINTS team and across the SRC.


My experience in SRC could not have been as fruitful and thought-through without the feeling of recognition and support that the OctoPINTS team offered me (Shout out to Emilie for being always available and positive and amazing! #BestMentor). Looking back at my experience I am reminded of a positive environment where I have felt welcomed since the beginning. This has made me immediately reconsider the expectations I had of the SRC, from being an untouchable place of research to a creative and humane space of humble and passionate individuals. Space was given to vulnerabilities and insecurities to be expressed, as happened during a presentation I gave to the SES-LINK group. This, I learnt, is the key to more resilient interactions in research, historically favouring independent and publications-driven work. Within OctoPINTS, the large space I was given to insert my personality and ideas in, instilled in me self esteem and a desire to gain bigger responsibility. Giving presentations- an experience that has always been frightening to me- became a much more natural process thanks to the feeling of equality and openness I was met with. Furthermore, the extensive and continuous reflection on my privileges as a European researcher and my vulnerabilities as a young woman intern sparked interesting conversations with my colleagues and are to be listed among my learning experiences here at SRC.

Interning with OctoPINTS represented a multi-fold learning journey towards understanding complexity, from the personal to the systemic level. The privilege to learn in such a cherishing space has provided me with more advanced tools to understand social-ecological systems while exploring the complexities of the research world.

Read more about the Research Themes I engaged with at SRC; Interacting Complexities and Stewardship and Transformative Futures, and keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post on Zanzibari masculinities!

Introduction à la série d’histoires

“personnages des fermetures de zone à la pêche : expériences humaines des projets de gestion et de conservation marine”

Le projet OctoPINTS vous présente une série d’histoire qui sera publié chaque mois et ayant pour but de partager l’histoire des personnages d’un village de pêcheurs de la côte swahilie. Ces différents personnages font l’expérience d’une gestion de la pêche concentrée sur les poulpes et qui consiste à fermer certains récifs à la pêche (au poulpe et souvent de toutes les autres espèces marines présentes). Le but de cette stratégie est d’encourager les habitants de ces zones côtières et dépendant de la mer de contrôler et conserver leurs ressources naturelles.

Les mesures de conservations marines telles que les fermetures de la pêche et les aires marines protégées sont de plus en plus souvent adoptées partout dans le monde. Ces mesures reposent sur les objectifs de développement durable et sont parfois éloignées des réalités vécues par les habitants de ces espaces côtiers. Le but de cette série d’histoire est donc de rendre ces interventions de conservation marine plus tangible. Les personnages de ces histoires sont fictifs mais les mots, actions et pensées exprimés reflètent ceux des participants du projet OctoPINTS à Zanzibar et qui resteront anonymes.

Les histoires ont été assemblées à partir des données collectées à Zanzibar, grâce à la méthode Story Circles, ainsi que des exercices de photo-élicitation et de discussions en groupe.

Nous espérons apporter une diversité d’expériences, allant au-delà des expériences des « pêcheurs », explorant comment une multitude de personnes sont influencés par ces interventions, telles que les pêcheuses, les commerçantes et les commerçants.

Nous vous invitons à partager vos réflexions après avoir lu ces histoires : êtes vous émus ? Quelle était le message principal de l’histoire selon vous ? Vous-a-t-elle plu ? Laissez vos commentaires !

L’histoire de Nuru, est la première de cette série.

L’histoire de Nuru nous invite à explorer comment la fermeture de la pêche au poulpe a été vécu par une pêcheuse et ses compagnes. Un des thèmes récurrents de l’histoire est le sentiment d’injustice ressenti par une partie de la communauté lorsque les règles ne sont pas respectées par tous.

Translation by: Anna Garré