Storytelling Series

Introduction to the Storytelling Series- “CHARACTERS OF THE CLOSURES: Human Experiences of Marine Conservation & Management”

The OctoPINTS project would like to introduce you to a storytelling series, where each month for the next few months we will share a story of a character from a marine fishing village on the Swahili Coast. These different characters experience an increasingly common fishery management intervention based on octopus. This intervention, where the octopus fishery, plus often all other species on the same reef are closed to fishing, is enacted to encourage and assist people who live and rely on the sea to manage and conserve their natural resources (see this Blue Ventures Report  from 2006 to read about the start of this conservation intervention). Marine conservation measures such as fishery closures or marine protected areas are commonly talked about and adopted with acceleration as the world races to try and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030. Goal 14.5 is to conserve 10% of marine and coastal areas which increasingly rests on Governments’ implementation of no-take zones and similar area-based fishery management. The implementation of such marine management can be hard to relate to personally as the human experience of such processes were not previously the focus. So, as a way to bring marine conservation interventions to life a bit more we are presenting this story series. We hope to bring a diversity to the human side of marine protected areas and prioritise the experiences and understandings of those impacted by intervention processes, beyond fisherMEN e.g. traderwomen, fisherwomen, tradermen. Through storytelling the closure intervention in the western indian ocean can hopefully become more of an understandable phenomenon to us who are not part of it. The exercise of storytelling also allows us to overcome some of the powerpoint and zoom fatigue many of us have experienced in the last year and offer a different way to communicate our research.

The stories 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. Check this earlier blog for reflections from the fieldwork in 2019.

We invite and encourage reflections on the stories; Where you invested? Was it a good story? What was the main meaning of the story for you? What was your emotional response? Feel free to leave comments below.