In addition to this life-sustaining role, a decline in live coral cover also poses a significant threat to local livelihoods, food security, commercial and subsistence fisheries, tourism, and associated industries within the Blue Economy.
The pressures on Zanzibar’s reefs mirror those threats facing coral reefs around the world: increasing water temperatures resulting from climate change, tropical cyclones, destructive fishing practices, plastic waste, unregulated tourism and coastal development. In the face of these factors, what is the role of reef restoration? The Coral Reef Consortium explains it like this:
Coral reef restoration can help span the predicted gap between the present when existing coral populations are threatened with extinction, and a future ocean that is hospitable again to corals.
Beacon of hope
In September 2021, the Oceans Without Borders’ Mnemba Island Community & Conservation team started their intensive and comprehensive training course with Marine Cultures, an NGO supporting small-scale ecological aquaculture conservation projects in Zanzibar.
This partnership with Marine Cultures will have a broad reach: we will build on our shared experiences, integrating lessons learned from the OWB Coral Reef Restoration Project, and actively engaging local communities around reef restoration.
Through these close collaborations, we are working to restore the ecological integrity of our local Mnemba Island reefs, inform the management and protection of this marine conservation area, and ultimately support the sustainability of local reef fisheries.
An accessible and suitable area of a local reef, often referred to as the Mnemba House Reef, was selected as a living laboratory for the project. From an initial five coral tables used to cultivate the coral fragments, there are now 15, and it will soon be time to transplant successfully cultivated coral colonies onto degraded reef sections of the house reef.
At this crucial point, the funding to create a second reef site is exactly what is needed to reduce pressure on the Mnemba House Reef and encourage the new coral growth.