WWF applauds new marine conservation push in coastal East Africa



Posted on 01 April 2010  | 
Nairobi, Kenya: Ministers and officials from ten countries and territories in East Africa yesterday endorsed or signed off on a potentially far-reaching protocol to protect East Africa’s coastal and marine environment from land-based activities and pollution.

The new protocol - five years in the making - makes the western Indian Ocean the third marine area of the world to achieve a multilateral agreement to limit and control land-based impacts on the marine environment, after the Mediterranean (1980) and Wider Caribbean (1999).

The parties to the agreement are Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritius, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa, which will be signing the protocol in the near future..

“This agreement comes at an opportune time, and will be assisting us with our initiatives in coast East Africa to save one of the few remaining areas of the world that are still unspoilt,” said Dr Amani Ngusaru, head of WWF’s Coastal East Africa Marine Programme.

“Over 60 million people in eastern and southern Africa live and depend on the goods and services provided by the coastal and marine ecosystems of coastal east Africa.”

A recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Study, Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis of land-based sources and activities in the Western Indian Ocean Region estimates the economic value in the form of goods and services provided by marine habitats such as coastal and mangrove forests, coral reefs and seagrass beds to be more than US$25 billion per year.

“However, the resources of coastal East Africa are coming more and more under threat from rapid population growth, increased resource exploitation, unplanned development and climate change,” Dr Ngusaru said. “Burgeoning cities such as Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Durban are threatening the very resource base that sustains them.

“Countering these trends is complicated by a lack of capacity and effective legal instruments that governments can use to champion the protection of the marine environment.”

The signing of the protocol followed nine demonstration projects focusing on dissemination of technologies and approaches for the sustainable management and protection of the marine ecosystems. These included wastewater management using advanced constructed wetlands in Kenya, Seychelles and Tanzania and community-based resource management and eco-tourism demonstration projects in Comoros and Madagascar.

A waste management demonstration project and a soil erosion control, both using indigenous vegetation, were implemented in Mauritius.

The meeting of parties to the Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Eastern African Region also endorsed a first ever Strategic Action Programme for marine protection in the area.

For further information:
Dr Amani Ngusaru,
Head of Marine Programme, WWF Coastal East Africa Network Initiative, ANgusaru@wwftz.org
+255 754 367362


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Fishermen pulling up nets, Mafia Island, Tanzania
© WWF-Canon / Roger Hooper Enlarge

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