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First Islamic Conservation Guide launched - to help Muslim fishermen protect their seas

March 30 2008:

IFEES has launched the world's first Islamic convservation guide.

The world's first Islamic conservation guide has been launched in Zanzibar by the UK-based Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES) and the Directorate of Fisheries in Zanzibar.

The pioneering instruction manual, written and published by IFEES, uses lessons from the Qur'an to show how vital fishing resources can be protected.

Launched on 29th February 2008 in Weshe on the island of Pemba, the manual is part of a project to protect the Misali conservation area, where fishing provides direct livelihood for 11,000 people, and which has until recently been threatened by unsustainable practices including dynamite fishing.

The island's growing population also faces other challenges - common to many traditional communities - like depleting resources and the threat of industrial development.

The Islamic environmental education programme devised by IFEES works by bringing members of the fishing community together with local institutions, government officials and religious leaders in an effort to promote sustainable practices - especially within the designated conservation zone.

Misali Island is a small uninhabited area near Pemba island in Tanzania
Founder and director of IFEES, Fazlun Khalid said, “This is a really exciting project, and the first of its kind. At a time when the Shariah is being misunderstood in some parts of the world it is good to demonstrate how it can contribute to protecting the environment. I hope this will be the first of many projects that use the Qur'an to promote conservation.”

The programme has also been developed with CARE International, Zanzibar, and is part of a series of initiatives to protect the Misali Island Marine Conservation Area and the nearby Ngezi Forest through extending savings and credit schemes; promotion of eco-tourism; and investigating how religious ethics can be explored in order to improve conservation awareness within communities.

Misali is characterised by remarkable species diversity. about 350 fish species and 40 genera of hard corals have been recorded in the area, while the square kilometer of the island itself supports endangered nesting turtles, green monkeys, endangered and endemic Pemba Flying Foxes, globally endangered coconut crabs and various species of rare birds.

notes from the field... a report from IFEES

Misali Island is a small uninhabited area near Pemba island in Tanzania
"The Misali Island Marine Conservation Area is 22 in area and has at its centre a small uninhabited island of coral rag known as Misali. It is also a turtle nesting ground. Fishing in this conservation zone provides direct livelihood support to an estimated 11,400 people on the island of Pemba,scattered over 36 shehias (villages). The problems here are the classic ones experienced by traditional communities worldwide. They are an expanding population, rising expectations, low employment opportunities, depleting resources and threats from industrial development, in this case tourism. Dynamiting has become the last desperate resort for some fishermen in the struggle to maintain the level of their ever dwindling catches.

As the situation appeared quite pessimistic we were invited by CARE International (USA) to develop an Islamic environmental education programme amongst the fishing communities, religious leaders and government officials and to canvass the support of local institutions to enhance the management and protection of MIMCA. This project was seen as supporting a community run protected area initiative to reduce illegal fishing practices, to promote awareness amongst the fishing communities and to emphasize the importance of sustainable practices within the designated conservation zone.

Workshops were conducted in November 1999 and January 2001 and the resource used in this phase of the project was Qur’an, Creation and Conservation. This is an instruction manual accompanied by a pack of 24 photographic slides based on six verses from the Qur’an.


Link here to read about the success of the Living Islam Camp 2008.

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