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Coral reefs are vital to the health of our earth’s oceans, and as such, paramount to marine habitat conservation. Where these invaluable ecosystems, and the myriad species they support, are under threat, OWB is committed to the establishment or enlargement of Marine Protected Areas (MPA).
Our achievements this year include:
- Collaboration with Dr Timothy McClanahan and Dr Nyawira Muthiga, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on an in-depth survey of Mnemba Island’s coral reefs, fish and sea urchin abundances
- A benthic survey (a survey of the animals and plants occurring on the seabed) of Mnemba’s reefs by Dr Tessa Hempson, OWB’s Project Operations Manager
- Monitoring of boat pressure on the reefs surrounding Mnemba Island to inform potential future management proposals as these reefs are currently entirely unregulated.
- Patrolling and engagement with the CCP (Community Fisheries Patrol) on Vamizi Island. The CCP is a volunteer-based fishers’ committee that under Mozambican law, has the authority to declare and patrol marine protected areas within 3 nautical miles of the coastline. This body works closely with the Vamizi Island Villas to maintain the community sanctuary area on the eastern end of the island
- Engagement with the government on the elevated protection of Vamizi’s Neptune’s Arm and Metundo reef systems
In the months to come, Oceans Without Borders (OWB) will be conducting a combined project to monitor the health and diversity of the coral reefs at all 3 islands: Vamizi, Mnemba and Benguerra. Each island has particular challenges and needs that will need to be addressed.
The continuous recording and study of mass coral spawning around Vamizi makes the protection of these reefs critical. The coral larvae generated during these periods and carried by a confluence of currents along the coastline, replenishes other depleted coral ecosystems. Our dedicated efforts to protect this marine sanctuary include patrolling and engagement with the Community Fishing Councils, and direct engagement with the government to protect the highly sensitive Neptune’s Arm and Metundo reefs.
The fringing reefs of Mnemba Island are under threat due to lack of regulation. Our project focus here needs to be multi-faceted. We will work with government to create exclusion zones, raise the conservation status of this area, and implement other protective measures. In tandem with these endeavours, we will be actively monitoring the reef and reef fish, and engaging with local communities on the creation of alternate income sources to reduce their dependency on this precious resource.