The cost of fishing and the income earned by fishers using small and large traps, gill nets, beach seines, hand lines, and spearguns were assessed in the multigear fishery of southern Kenya to establish a financial rationale for fishing gear use. Direct observations and key-informant interviews with fish leaders and boat captains were used to gather data on fish catch, cost of fishing gear, boats, and the price of fish. Among the fishing gear used, spearguns had the lowest monthly cost (USD 1 mo−1) while big traps had the highest (USD 13 mo−1). Income was highest among capital cost beach seine fishers (USD 183 mo−1) and lowest among noncapital cost beach seine fishers (USD 20 mo−1). There was a direct positive correlation between income earned and profitability of gear. Correlation of the financial measure for each gear to four categories of damage to fish and habitats showed that low cost fishing gear were associated with the highest environmental damage indicating a trade-off between cost of gear and environmental health.
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Vol. 36 • No. 8