The study areas are characterized by dynamic and extremely complex ecosystems with a variety of natural resources. Although several institutions have been established to deal with these resources, management has been poor. A key issue is the lack of effective coordination among the various institutions involved. No authority exists to reconcile conflicting interests among government institutions, such as the issue of licenses for fishing, harvesting mangroves, and salt-making, or land titles. These may concern the Division of Forestry, the Division of Lands, the Division of Fisheries, the Ministry of Water and the Ministry of Energy and Minerals simultaneously. In the mangrove area, there are institutions responsible for mining (mineral prospecting and salt-making), land use (Ministry of Lands), forestry (MNRT), environment (Vice President’s Office), and under local governments (represented by the newly re-established Ministry of Local Governments). The activities guided by policies and regulations from these institutions have often conflicted with each other due to different immediate objectives and lack of harmonization or coordination of policies needed to achieve the much wider objective of sustainability. To take another example, the Forest Ordinance of 1957 has governed all forest-related matters. However, despite the ban on cutting of mangroves in Bagamoyo, licenses for the establishment of salt pans continue to be issued. During the 1994-97 period of implementation of the mangrove project, it is reported that the land and mineral authorities continued issuing permits for salt production that involved clearing of mangroves, especially in Bagamoyo District (Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, 1998). The construction of tourist hotels on the beaches of Bagamoyo has contributed to clearing mangrove areas between hotels and the sea in order to improve beach access. Construction of tourist hotels in Bagamoyo is authorized by the Ministry of Lands in Dar es Salaam, while the district offices do not even collect levies for business conducted in their jurisdiction.
In Rufiji, these contradictions are even more glaring. As well as being a forest reserve, the mangrove forests of the Delta are under a management project supported by substantial donor assistance money (National Environmental Management Council, 1997). Yet, according to the law, it is possible to grant permits in such areas for exploration of subsurface resources such as oil. Thus, a production-sharing agreement for exploration was issued in June 1997 to an Irish company looking for oil in the Delta. A second oil prospecting company, from Canada, also has a license for prospecting in the Rufiji Delta. The prawn farm is another activity granted permission to operate in the Delta against technical advice and social protests. Approval of the prawn farm violates the land policy, which does not allow large tracts of land to be allocated to a single investor, and reveals the conflict between the forest and fisheries departments, both under the MNRT. Other conflicts arise between the oil prospecting companies and the prawn-farming project since the oil companies expect that the prawn-farming project will deny them access and possibly claim compensation if they are granted access. The impending disturbance and possible government displacement of people living in some parts of the Delta is another issue that has resulted in a court case against the government. Over the long-run, these contradictions may lead to loss of mangroves as the delta people lose faith and trust in the government. These people were once convinced to stop cutting down the mangroves for rice cultivation in order to conserve mangroves for their important ecological functions. Seeing the same government now supporting activities that lead to clearing of mangroves may reduce commitment to conservation activities.