Factors influencing capacity of beach management units in implementing fisheries co-management in a tropical desert lake
Lake Turkana fishery consists of seven endemic and 12 commercially exploited species and is the second largest producer of freshwater fish in Kenya. It supports livelihoods of approx. 300,000 people locally. The lake is managed by beach management units (BMU) through a co-management arrangement between the government and stakeholders. Despite this, it faces management related challenges that have resulted in plummeting fish production due to uncontrolled fishing effort, increased competition among fishermen and deficient statistics to support management objectives. This study investigated institutional factors influencing BMUs’ performance by examining training and level of understanding of BMU laws and regulations, funding sources and usage and equipment ownership. A cross-sectional study was adopted and purposive sampling used to collect data from 693 respondents using questionnaires. Chi square was used to test for statistical differences at 95% significant level using MINITAB statistical software. Results showed that resource mobilization was statistically significant (x2=154.098, df=21, p=0.00) but donors (45%) contributed most funds compared to national government (21%), county government (19%) and well wishers (15%). Main revenue sources were membership registration (41%) and daily landing fees (25%). Revenue was used to purchase fishing gears (47%), supported welfare activities (18%) while significant portion (35%) was shared by members. Members’ training was statistically significant (x2=79.510, df=14, p= 0.000) but only 35% were effectively trained while 65% had contrary opinion. Members were trained on fish handling (49%), BMU laws (28%) and micro-credit (23%) but key training gaps included data collection, conflicts resolution and sea surveillance/patrols. BMUs owned equipment; however, 87% were poorly serviced while others were not available. BMU performance could be improved mainly by providing financial support (27%), capacity building (19%) and security to fishermen (17%). This study identified critical capacity factors influencing BMU operations. The factors should be enhanced by various stakeholders to support BMU performance and promote collaborative management of fisheries resources in Lake Turkana.