Mosquito net use in an artisanal East African fishery

Published in Conservation Letters, 2016

Recommended citation: Bush, E.R., Short, R.E., Milner‐Gulland, E.J., Lennox, K., Samoilys, M. and Hill, N., 2017. Mosquito net use in an artisanal East African fishery. Conservation Letters, 10(4), pp.451-459.


Widespread, anecdotal reports of the use of bed nets designed for malaria control (“mosquito nets”) in artisanal fisheries have led to concern from health and natural resource management sectors. However, mosquito net fishing (MNF) may play an important role in the livelihoods of artisanal fishers, an aspect not yet investigated. At a coastal Kenyan site among Giriama fishers, nearly half of homesteads interviewed used mosquito nets as fishing gear, targeting juvenile fish and prawns for subsistence and sale. The majority of mosquito net (MN) fishers here were men, suggesting that the assumption that MNF is a female activity is not valid in this case. However, MN use for fishing at this site is unlikely to impact malaria protection as fishers used old or surplus nets. Respondents perceived both positive aspects of MNF (e.g., food and income) and negative aspects (e.g., impact on fishery). As mosquito nets are widely available, they may enable new entrants to access fisheries. There is a critical need to review current management responses, which predominately focus on banning the practice, and instead promote integrated strategies for sustainable livelihoods.

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