When the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve was proclaimed in 1986 there was a thriving traditional fishery, based on trapping fish, and a growing recreational fishery. In 1992 the Reserve Authorities instituted an experimental gillnet fishery to establish if it were possible to develop and implement a new fishery targeting fish species thought to be able to sustain further fishing pressure. The results and implications of the fishery were analyzed both in terms of fish catches and broader conservation goals. The fishery was begun in one area and apparent success there led to its expansion and by the end of 1995 there were four gillnet committees issuing a total of 35 permits to their communities. Various problems arose during the development of the project and these were dealt with through the committees. Of the 88,964 fish caught during the period April 1992 to December 1995, 84.6% were of species designated as 'target' as they were perceived to be able to sustain increased fishing pressure. Catch levels appeared to be sustainable and impacts on conservation priority species, such as crocodiles, Crocodilus niloticus, and ecological factors such as annual fish spawning migrations, were assessed and found to be minimal. Communities within and surrounding the Nature Reserve were initially neutral or hostile to the Reserve authorities but by December 1995 relations had improved considerably and a degree of joint management had been achieved.
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