MSC scholarships funding fisheries research in East Africa and Kenya

A Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) scholarship programme is supporting environmental improvement, supply chain management and fisheries management best practise research.

The programme’s most recent winners, Lily Zhao from the University of Washington, USA and Timothy Munyikana Kakai from Pwani University, Kenya will each receive £4,000 funding after being selected from a record 70 applications from 30 countries.

Oluyemisi Oloruntuyi, MSC programme manager - developing world fisheries, said: "We were very impressed with the quality of entries this year, ranging from the development of new tools for bycatch reduction to assessing the impact of land development on fish and coral community structures.

“It is a testament to the breadth of marine research taking place globally that we are able to fund projects in Kenya and across East Africa, where sustainable fisheries are vital not only for the health of our oceans, but for food security and poverty reduction.”

Trade flows of octopus

Ms Zhao won the award for her project mapping the trade flows of octopus from small scale fisheries in East Africa. Octopus are a common food in the region and little is known about the export and interdependencies between countries in terms of product flow.

The MSC stated Zhao’s research will complement its initiative to map the sustainability of octopus fishing across the Western Indian Ocean.

Turtle bycatch

Mr Kakai will trial the use of LED lights on nets to reduce turtle bycatch in Kenyan artisanal fisheries. Sea turtles are often entangled in or captured by commercial and artisanal fisheries along Kenya’s 600km coast and this remains a threat to the five species of sea turtle in the region.

Several studies have revealed that illuminating fishing nets with LED lights can reduce sea turtle capture by 40%-60% so, if the trial is successful, this project has the potential to make a real impact on the water, stressed the MSC.

The 2016 scholarship winners are investigating Mexican cooperatives combating illegal fishing, researching the socio-economic impacts of seaweed farming in Indonesia and monitoring tuna populations with genetic sequencing.

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