Acoustic monitoring to document the spatial distribution and hotspots of blast fishing in Tanzania
Destructive fishing using explosives occurs in a number of countries worldwide, negatively impacting coral reefs and fisheries on which millions of people rely. Documenting, quantifying and combating the problem has proved problematic. In March–April 2015 231 h of acoustic data were collected over 2692 km of systematically laid transects along the entire coast of Tanzania. A total of 318 blasts were confirmed using a combination of manual and supervised semi-autonomous detection. Blasts were detected along the entire coastline, but almost 62% were within 80 km of Dar es Salaam, where blast frequency reached almost 10 blasts/h. This study is one of the first to use acoustic monitoring to provide a spatial assessment of the intensity of blast fishing. This can be a useful tool that can provide reliable data to define hotspots where the activity is concentrated and determine where enforcement should be focused for maximum impact.