Conservation collaboration in the western Indian Ocean

A CEED/NERP workshop

(University of Qld, May 2014)

In Eastern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean (WIO), many people depend on marine resources and their sustainable use for their living. This region harbors a wide diversity of coral and fish species, extending from South Africa in the South to Somalia in the North and from the East coast of Africa to island states such as Madagascar Seychelles and Reunion to the east. The objective of this workshop was to investigate the role of collaboration in conservation planning and prioritization among countries in the West Indian Ocean. Organized by Salit Kark (CEED) and Maina Mbui (CEED & Wildlife Conservation Society – WCS), the workshop brought together marine biodiversity, conservation planning, and spatial analysis experts including Tim McClanahan (WCS, Kenya), Noam Levin (CEED & Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Maria Beger (CEED), James Watson (UQ & WCS) and Tessa Mazor (CEED).

From left: Maria Beger, Salit Kark, Tim McClanahan, Maina Mbui and James Watson. (Missing are Tessa Mazor and Noam Levin who were busy running GIS analyses for the West Indian Ocean at the time.) (Photo by Heather Christensen)

From left: Maria Beger, Salit Kark, Tim McClanahan, Maina Mbui and James Watson. (Missing are Tessa Mazor and Noam Levin who were busy running GIS analyses for the West Indian Ocean at the time.)
(Photo by Heather Christensen)

To set the stage for the workshop’s discussions, Salit Kark familiarized the group with the previous work undertaken in the Mediterranean Sea, and introduced the concept of regional conservation planning within the framework of collaboration among countries (or lack of), biodiversity distributions, conflicts, and regional economic and geopolitical issues. Noam Levin and Tessa Mazor presented their work in the Mediterranean (see Decision Point #73) . Maina Mbui introduced the region’s spatial extent and constituent nations, sociopolitical and biodiversity distributions, and the examples of relevant previous work undertaken in the region.

Discussions that followed led to the outlining of a paper that will aim to help prioritize coral reef systems in the WIO on the basis of ecological and socio-political economic factors. For example, prioritization considers fish biomass sustainability and conservation targets, and the cost (units=time) of fish biomass recovery. In so doing, the planning takes into account the importance of coral reef fisheries as a source of livelihood in the WIO, where many people depend on marine resources on a daily basis and where high socio-economic diversity occurs amongst countries and regions. The aim was to examine spatial options for maintaining fish biomass at a level where yields are high, and at the same time prevent the undermining of ecosystem by heavy exploitation.

Preliminary outputs of these applied analyses were then presented by Tim McClanahan at the regional meeting of the Consortium for the Conservation of Coastal and Marine Ecosystems in the Western Indian Ocean ( in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in June.

Overall, this two days workshop was very productive and succeeded in building further ties between CEED and WCS’s marine experts (see Decision Point #79) , and streamlining the project’s outputs to spatial scales, conservation goals and targets that are applicable to the region, in addition to forging new collaborations with conservation practitioners and scientists in the WIO region.

More info: Salit Kark 

Leave a Reply