15-02-2020 by Leni Frau
A group of women are reviving the coral reef around the island of Wasini, south of Diani on the coast of Kenya.
Within one of the best known marine reserves in the Indian Ocean, where in addition to corals swim many fish and gallop crustaceans of all kinds, a paradise of biodiversity and also for passionate tourists, three years ago the ecosystem appeared to be at risk of perennial damage.
More than man's carelessness, climate change and "global warming" were more likely to occur: the increase in water temperature on the surface causes the corals to bleach and a significant decrease in marine life. Unreasonable, illegal and uncontrolled fishing
Huge damage to local communities dependent on the sea for their livelihoods, the degradation of the coral reef and its effects on the marine ecosystem threatened to overthrow an entire way of life.
A study by the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) revealed that in Wasini in particular two thirds of the coral heritage was almost dead.
It was necessary for someone to move, without waiting for the institutions or others: the women of the island took care of it and started an initiative for the restoration of degraded coral that demonstrated with daily manual techniques that marine ecosystems could be revived and sustainable livelihoods for communities dependent on fishing and ecotourism could be recreated.
The fish have started to return since the restoration activities began," said Guardian Nasura Ali of the Wasini Beach Management Unit, which has about 250 members, including about 150 women, "More than 40 people have been trained in restoration techniques.
Within a year, among the more than three thousand "adopted" corals, many fish species that were in danger of disappearing, including clownfish, harlequin fish, groupers, emperor fish and others, have been readapted.
As often happens when you start doing things, the success of the initiative has moved the institutions that financed the project through the Kenya Coastal Development Fund (KCDP).
"Not only have these conservation efforts tripled the number of fish in protected areas, but the increase in fish population is spilling over into unprotected areas, benefiting many more people," confirmed Dishon Murage, a consultant with the US-based environmental conservation organization Seacology and lecturer at the University of Mombasa.
Another project of Wasini's fantastic women is related to beneficial algae plantations. Overfishing of some species, such as triggerfish, led to the disappearance of algae because the triggerfish fed on sea urchins that devoured them. The female group replanted the sea grasses on the bottom of the ocean and, using sisal bags to protect them and prevent them from being ripped off, made them grow again.
In addition to providing food, seaweed plays a key role in the overall reef ecosystem, providing shelter for young fish after hatching, protecting them from strong waves until they mature and move into the reef.
All this obviously also serves to give new impetus to ecotourism, which is becoming an important revenue stream in some areas of Kenya. And even local operators themselves are beginning to understand that nature conservation can become a gain.
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