Most reefs are intropical countries which are struggling for their economic development.
Many ofthese countries including Tanzania do not have even enough economic resourcesto spend in management of natural resources therefore to set fund for newlyconcept of coral restoration can be difficult. Despite having in place highnumber of approaches to coral reef restoration, there exist several setbackswhich require political and community intervention in order to overcome.Normally, firstapproaches for coral reef conservation include establishing protected areas orno-take zones that exclude anthropogenic disturbance of reef ecosystems.Conserving existing areas of coral reef often results in improved ecosystemservice provision. Tanzania is one of the countries in the world which has establishedlarge area of its coastal habitats as protected area and the vision to 2025 isto have 50% of the under protection. However, despite all these efforts, theuncontrollable and highly unprecedented external parameters such as prolongedseas surface temperature, termed as Eln Nino, raises have been of highconcerns. The 1997/98 EL Nino has been responsible for wiping out large portionof live corals (Plate 7) in Tanzania and neighboring states prompting searchesfor remedial approaches.
Warming seawater leads to episodes of unusually warm water, and mass coralbleaching which can lead, as it did in 1998, to widespread death ofcoral. Plate 7. Sea urching proliferation in coral reef damaged areasof Dar es Salaam.It isimportant to stress that in Tanzania, coral reefs are important socially andeconomically, whereby about 70% of artisanal fisheries take place on coralreefs (Horril et al., 2001) while the tourism which is the mainstay of Zanzibaris heavily dependent on coral reefs. Furthermore, the growing coastal based tourismindustry and associated activities are having strong impacts on thesocio-economics.
However, the observed fast decline of the reefs is threateningthe economy of local communities, tourism industry and several others of theassociated amenities they provide. The rapidly declining coral reefrequires invention of economically viable, costeffective and technically feasible adaptation measures. While various approachesto coral reefs management have been in place with little impacts achieved, thelife of local communities must proceed uninterrupted. Since several articles within Tanzania and in the neighborhoodshave telling much the same story it is time we bring together our common thinkingand resign the way forward for reef management. One of the mostcompelling stories about coral reef status was the report published last year whichdocumented the loss in coral cover across the entire coastline of Tanzania (World-Bank,2017). The data was compared to the relatively interrupted and inconsistentmonitoring results in place since 2000 (which samples shallow portions ofentire outer slopes of each reef sampled) and it showed an average of 30.7%loss of coral cover (from an average of 28% to 13.8% over the previousyears).
Several reef areas remained barren harboring non-reefal organisms(Plate 8) thus potential sign of coral extinction. Plate 8: Broken coral reef area inSinda Island as a result of coral bleaching. On the background is theopportunistic seagrass; Thallasodendron ciliatum.Aswas the case for Mtwara and Tanga areas, the loss was mainly through stresses suchas overfishing and dynamites – stresses that are widely present on Tanzanian coralreefs, and have been around almost for the last 50 years and remain unabated. Other notable stresses included outbreaks of the Crown-of-Thorns starfish(Plate 8), which themselves seem more prevalent since the 1990s than in thepast, and may be partially aconsequence of agricultural nutrification of coastal waters – the enrichedwaters, particularly following intense rain events and flooding, can favorlarval survival leading to very much enhanced settlement of young starfish, anda few months later, large populations of hungry coral predators. Intermittentoutbreaks have been observed to occur in Mtwara, Dar es Salaam and someZanzibar reefs with massive demises of corals being reported afterwards.
Lastly; the yet unclearly documented oceanacidification has been shown to impedes the process of calcification (by makingthe process more energetically demanding), used by corals and other reefcreatures to build their skeletons, and therefore to build or repair reef.Anemerging approach in tackling coral reef decline is an ecosystem-basedadaptation. Ecosystem-based adaptation integrates the protection and use ofbiodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall strategy to help peopleadapt to the adverse impacts of reefresources decline.
Tanzania recognises the importance of biodiversity andecosystem services to reef-based tourism industry, local communities and the broaderpublic. The connections between people and the ecosystem are especiallyimportant in the context of reef decline. A healthy Reef enhances the resilienceof the ecosystem to adverse impacts of decline; a resilient ecosystem reducesthe vulnerability of tourism industry and communities that depend on the reef.
Nationaland international coral reef decline adaptation strategies have evolved significantlyover the past few years. In this context, Tanzania collaborated with a widerange of local, regional and global organisations that are working to mitigate coralreef decline impacts while adapting coral reef management. Internationally, theTanzania has established strong working relationships with coral reef managers aroundthe world. A partnership with the World-Bank (SWIOFish Project), WWF, IUCN, Reef Check andseveral others has been networking to tackle coral reef decline issues anddeveloped approaches to adaptation planning. Whilemany of the options proposed todate are unlikely to salvage reefs at the globalscale, most of these interventions may be of value considering if managers decidethat sustaining and rebuilding a subset of ecosystem services at a local toregional scale is a desirable outcome. In applying principles of ecosystemmanagement, interventions for reef conservation of keystone species andecosystem engineers (i.
e., corals) that underpin coral reef fisheries and tourism industries is the mos desirable.The keystone species and ecosystem engineers’ help to sustain local fishspecies as well as visitors thus at least provide some goods, services and supportappropriate for the local societies’ livelihoods and the tourism industry. Maintaining the viability of different habitatforming species such as branching coral species also provides resistance toecological change. In support of this, a high tech but economically viable interms of costs; coral gardening (mariculture) concept by Rinkevich (1995) wassuggested and developed. This is an essential, complementary component for reefrestoration, in conjunction with transplantation techniques. This could be amajor conceptual approach in reef restoration that has been so far abandoned dueto high costs. The concept incorporates a two step protocol, one beinggardening small colonies and ramets directly on mid water nurseries attached tothe reef bottom (Plate 9), designed to provide a firm but temporary structure(Shafir et al.
, 2006). Upon reaching a suitable size and shape, cultivatedcolonies are transplanted back into their natal reef in carefully plannedtransplantation programme (Epstein et al. 2001; Soong andChen, 2003; Shafir et al., 2003, 2005; Rinkevich et al., 2005). Plate 9: a,b, Mid water nurseryconstructed out of locally available abandoned nets and plastic bottles acting as bouys in Mafia Island,TanzaniaIncomparison to the harmful practice of harvesting corals for transplantationfrom donor reef areas, the establishment of coral nurseries, containing localspecies and genets that are managed in a sustainable manner, eliminates theneed for the extraction of valuable coral material for transplantation(Rinkevich, 1995, 2000; Epstein and Rinkevich, 2001; Epstein et al.
, 2001). Aprotected nursery phase provides the transplanted material with an acclimationperiod ensuring better survivorship and growth to a size suitable fortransplantation. The transplantation of nursery-grown fragments back into theirnatal reef (Plate 10) helps in preventing genet and species extinctions in degradingsites (Sinsch, 1997). It also preserves the genetic heterogeneity. A coralnursery may also be considered as a local species pool that suppliesreef-managers with coral colonies for sustainable management (Rinkevich, 1995,2000; Epstein et al., 2001).
Plate 10: Transplanted nursery growncorals in Changuu Island, ZanzibarThenursery grown corals can also be transplanted by local communities withoutusing expensive scuba dive gears, just by snorkeling. While this approach provides the first insight intoreef restoration through application of the two-step restoration protocol inEast Africa, large-scale restoration projects that are urgently needed inTanzania, may require direct involvement and participation of local communities(Wagner, 2004; Rinkevich, 2008; Mbije et al., 2010). The active involvement of local communities is veryimportant (Mbije et al., 2010) toachieve a highly successful production of coral fragments at low costs and inshort time (Mbije et al., 2010). Theextent of denuded reefs along the coastline is so huge that without community restorationmay falter.
On the other hand, unlike the past restoration efforts in Tanzania(Franklin et al., 1998; Lindahl,1998, 2003; Wagner et al., 2001) thecurrent one experienced direct community because of tampering with thenurseries which prompted hiring of guards for a few months.
The communityinvolvement, besides providing abundant manpower for making potentially largenurseries for production of large quantities of fragments for restoration, italso creates sense of ownership and thus minimizes unwarranted vandalism of thenurseries (Mbije et al., 2010). Inother studies, local community participation was effective in conservation andrestoration initiatives around the world (Ferrer et al., 1996; Meñez et al.
, 1998; Meñez et al., 2012).Lastly,it is important to take precaution here that many of the proactive strategies statedrequires network across the globe It is certain, however, from the limitedreach of coral reef interventions, that any actions must be undertaken as partof a suite of global scale interventions including atmospheric CO2 reduction topreserve coral reef ecosystem fun ction and benefits to humanity. Ultimately,only the reduction of atmospheric CO2 levels will address the challenges of OA,and without deep and rapid emissions reductions, the future of coral reefs isat risk.