What is the socio-economic value of the wetlands fisheries? The case of Yala Wetland in Kenya
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Wetlands in most parts of the world are under threat of over-exploitation partly because their socio-economic value is not well known. Yala Wetland, the largest freshwater wetland in Kenya, with a large part of it bordering Lake Victoria’s shoreline, faces even greater threats of extinction. This wetland measures about 17,500 ha and is host to a number of indigenous fish species, animals and plants which are exploited by the local communities for subsistence and commercial purposes.There has been pressure to reclaim portions of this wetland for agricultural activity. So far, 2,300 ha has, indeed, been drained for commercial agriculture. Furthermore, it is difficult to control effort in the exploitation of the remaining wetland resources since the economically sustainable yields are undetermined. This study was undertaken to close down the information gaps and generate relevant data for managing the wetland. Data for the study were collected in two phases, first a rapid appraisal exercise, then a monitoring program for 6 months in 2004-2005. Several variables were monitored during the study period, including; fish catch and composition, commercial yield of macrophytes, demand and price levels of wetland resources, levels of effort for exploiting wetland resources and other relevant ecological variables. This paper presents the results of the study including, the composition and fish catch levels, the quantities of harvested and marketed macrophytes and other resources. Using these, the annual economic values of the Yala Wetland resources is determined. In addition the paper gives determinants of exploitation effort and the characteristics of wetland exploiters. The paper proposes management options under which the wetland can be managed.
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