Impacts of Prawn trawling on species of Hammerhead sharks, Sawfishes, Wedgefishes, and Guitarfishes in coastal Kenya

This collaborative project between University of Eldoret, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute and Kenya Fisheries Service is being implemented in Malindi-Ungwana Bay, North Coast, Kenya. The project is funded by the National Geographic Society Explorer Programme and coordinated by Prof. Boaz Kaunda-Arara. The overall goal of the project is to provide data on the by-catch levels of shark and ray species from the commercial prawn trawlers within the Malindi-Ungwana Bay, Kenya, with a focus on the endangered species of hammerhead sharks, Sawfishes, Wedgefishes and Guitarfishes. The data collected is to contribute to a management plan of the bay to ensure the conservation of shark and ray species.

The Project has documented the diversity of sharks and rays species  within the Malindi-Ungwana Bay following monthly sampling campaigns.  So far a total of 21 species of sharks and rays have been recorded from the by-catch volumes. Of the species landed 10 are listed as endangered in the IUCN red list of endangered species. Some of the Endangered species of sharks and rays being landed from the bay by the trawlers include the, Scalloped hammerhead, Sphryna lewini, Critically endangered Giant Guitarfish, Rhynchobatus djiddensis, and the Vulnerable Giant Manta ray, Mobula birostris), amongst others.  There is depth refugia for the endangered species mostly found within the deep (> 150 m) sections of the bay in Malindi sections of the bay with implications for the current seasonal allocation of trawling effort by the Kenya Fisheries Service (KFS).  The deep ( 150-200 m) sections of Malindi Bay also harbours populations of  the recently discovered Sawshark, Pristiophorous nancyae, that is now only known to be distributed in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique within the WIO region

The data is being analyzed to determine: 

  1. The spatial demarcation of biodiversity hot-spots within the bay for purposes of area-based conservation.  
  2. The seasonal and spatial distribution of species with a focus on the endangered species in order to advice on sampling effort allocation for the trawlers, 
  3. Modeling the influence of trawling on shark and ray abundance and fish species distribution. 

The data will feed into the Fisheries Management Plan of the Malindi-Ungwana Bay and the envisaged National Plan of Action for the Management of sharks and rays in Kenya (NPOA-sharks). The project supports the IUCN endangered species initiative through the participation of the PI in the Sharks Specialist Group (SSG). This study has generated a publication on Morphometrics, distribution and catch rates of the recently discovered African Dwarf sawshark, Pristiophorous nancyae (Chondrichthyes: Pristiophoridae), in coastal Kenya currently under review for publication in the Journal of Itchthyology.

The project has supported one Ph.D. Student (Benedict Kiilu); An ecological model of the Malindi-Ungwana Bay; analysis of ecosystem structure and fishing impacts, and one M.Sc. Student (Lameck Menya): Distribution of sharks and rays within Malindi-Ungwana Bay, Kenya.

Prof. Boaz Kaunda-Arara is a Professor of Fisheries Ecology, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, University of Eldoret. Ph.D. (Fisheries Ecology), Memorial Newfoundland. Professionally, Prof. Kaunda has had international exposure as National Geographic Explorer; Editor, Fisheries Research Journal (Elsevier), 2015-2020, Visiting Professor, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2012-2015; Member, IUCN Species Specialist Groups (Africa Region), Member SSG of Seabreams, Grunts and Groupers; African Member IUCN Sharks MOU Committee. Member WIOMSA/World Bank Benchmarking Team for SWIOFish Project (2019-2021). External examiner (Makerere, Dar es Salaam, and JKUAT).

The major projects he has participated on include National Geographic Explorer 2020-2022; APPEAR/Austrian funded Aquaculture Project-STRECAFISH between Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, BOKU University (2014-2018). WIOMSA-MASMA sponsored regional Project on Larval Ecology Between Kenya, Tanzania and Stockholm University (2009-2011); Several minor projects funded by WWS, IFS, USFWS, PADI-Foundation.

Prof. Kaunda-Arara’s research interest is in Fisheries Ecology - The dynamics of exploited populations and responses of life-history traits to exploitation.  Responses of sharks and rays to exploitation pressure.  MPAs and Fisheries Spillover effects.  Data-Poor fisheries analysis methods. To date he has published a total of 62 publications in peer review Journals.

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