Dias, G.A.; Vasconcelos, M.J., and Catarino, L., 2022. Examining the socioeconomic benefits of oysters: A provisioning ecosystem service from the mangroves of Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. Journal of Coastal Research, 38(2), 355–360. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
In Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, extensive patches of mangrove provide important resources for the subsistence of local populations. The objective of this work was to assess the relevance of oyster harvesting, consumption, and trade for local communities. For that purpose, a qualitative approach derived from rural diagnostic methodologies was applied in two coastal protected areas where extensive areas of mangrove are present. Ten animal species were found to be collected there by women, both for household consumption and for sale. The oyster, Crassostrea tulipa is the only species harvested in all the 12 inquired villages and, by far, the most available in local markets. Three types of oyster products are commercialized—fresh oysters with shell, fresh oysters without shell, and dry oysters—with the latter being the most traded and valued. These products are marketed in the villages, in local markets, and in the capital, Bissau, as well as exported to Senegal. The harvesting of oysters is practised during 20 weeks per year, providing households with an average annual income of 580–595€. This income, which represents a large proportion of the yearly income, is mostly managed by women and is used to cover basic family expenses, namely, to meet the needs of children. This study uncovers the socioeconomic benefits derived from a specific mangrove ecosystem service, which is directly used by coastal human communities, and highlights the importance of oysters for food security, for empowering women, and for securing household incomes.