Archive for May, 2010

Ocean fish could disappear in 40 years: UN

May 18th, 2010 No comments

The world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 unless fishing fleets are slashed and stocks allowed to recover, UN experts warned.

“If the various estimates we have received… come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish,” Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program’s green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.

A Green Economy report due later this year by UNEP and outside experts argues this disaster can be avoided if subsidies to fishing fleets are slashed and fish are given protected zones — ultimately resulting in a thriving industry.

The report, which was opened to preview Monday, also assesses how surging global demand in other key areas including energy and fresh water can be met while preventing ecological destruction around the planet.

UNEP director Achim Steiner said the world was “drawing down to the very capital” on which it relies.

However, “our institutions, our governments are perfectly capable of changing course, as we have seen with the extraordinary uptake of interest. Around, I think it is almost 30 countries now have engaged with us directly, and there are many others revising the policies on the green economy,” he said.

Environmental experts are mindful of the failure this March to push through a worldwide ban on trade in bluefin tuna, one of the many species said to be headed for extinction.

Powerful lobbying from Japan and other tuna-consuming countries defeated the proposal at the CITES conference on endangered species in Doha.

But UNEP’s warning Monday was that tuna only symbolizes a much vaster catastrophe, threatening economic, as well as environmental upheaval.

One billion people, mostly from poorer countries, rely on fish as their main animal protein source, according to the UN.

The Green Economy report estimates there are 35 million people fishing around the world on 20 million boats. About 170 million jobs depend directly or indirectly on the sector, bringing the total web of people financially linked to 520 million.

According to the UN, 30 percent of fish stocks have already collapsed, meaning they yield less than 10 percent of their former potential, while virtually all fisheries risk running out of commercially viable catches by 2050.

Currently only a quarter of fish stocks — mostly the cheaper, less desirable species — are considered to be in healthy numbers.

The main scourge, the UNEP report says, are government subsidies encouraging ever bigger fishing fleets chasing ever fewer fish, with little attempt made to allow the fish populations to recover.

The annual 27 billion dollars in government subsidies to fishing, mostly in rich countries, is “perverse,” Sukhdev said, since the entire value of fish caught is only 85 billion dollars.

As a result, fishing fleet capacity is “50 to 60 percent” higher than it should be, Sukhdev said.

Creating marine preservation areas to allow female fish to grow to full size, thereby hugely increasing their fertility, is one vital solution, the report says.

Another is restructuring the fishing fleets to favor smaller boats that — once fish stocks recover — would be able to land bigger catches.

“What is scarce here is fish,” Sukhdev said, “not the stock of fishing capacity.”


Special Issue of Ocean and Coastal Management is out!

May 17th, 2010 No comments

Special issue of Ocean and Coastal Management Journal “Understanding the Human Dimensions of the Management of Coastal and Marine Resources in the WIO region” edited by Rose Mwaipopo, G. –M. Lange and Y. Breton as Guest Editors, has been published in Volume 53 No 4 of April 2010.

This Issue comprises of the selected papers from Fifth WIOMSA Scientific Symposium, which was held in October 2007 in Durban, South Africa. This is the fourth and the final Special Issue from the Fifth WIOMSA Symposium. The others are: Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Sciences (2009, Volume 84, Issue 3, Pages 299-428); Aquatic Conservation (Volume 19 Issue S1, Pages S1 – S69) and Western Indian Ocean Journal of Marine Science Volume 8 Number 2).

In additional to the editorial, the Issue comprises of the following articles:

i) The changing social relations of a community-based mangrove forest project in Zanzibar – Fred Saunders, Salim M. Mohammed, Narriman Jiddawi, Bengt Lundèn, Karolina Nordin and Sara Sjöling

ii) Lessons learnt from a collaborative management programme in coastal Tanzania – Sue Wells, Melita Samoilys, Solomon Makoloweka and Hassan Kalombo

iii) Social acceptability of a Marine Protected Area: the case of Reunion Island – Aurélie Thomassin, Carole S. White, Selina S. Stead, and Gilbert David

iv) Ecological knowledge interactions in marine governance in Kenya – Louisa S. Evans

v) Socio-Economic Features of Sea Cucumber Fisheries in Southern Coast of Kenya – Jacob Ochiewo, Maricela de la Torre-Castro, Charles Muthama, Fridah Munyi, and J.M. Nthuta

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International Conference on Aquatic Resources of Kenya (Ark-II): Expression of Interest and Call For Abstracts

May 17th, 2010 No comments

International Conference on Aquatic Resources of Kenya (Ark-II): Expression of Interest and Call For Abstracts – Aquatic Research for Development

Dates: 16th -19th November, 2010

Venue: Kenya Wildlife Training Institute, Naivasha, Kenya

ARK II aims to bring together scientists, managers and stakeholders to discuss research and technological advances with relevance to the management of both freshwater and marine resources in Kenya.


To share knowledge in aquatic research especially those related to fisheries management and aquaculture development with emphasis on food security, employment opportunities and poverty alleviation. This is in keeping with the mission of KMFRI to contribute to the management and sustainable exploitation of aquatic resources and thus alleviate poverty, enhance employment creation and food security through multidisciplinary and collaborative research in both marine and fresh-water aquatic systems. Gaps in research and technological applications will be identified and recommendations made for enhanced partnerships between stakeholders in the application of research outputs.


Abstracts of papers are welcome on the themes outlined for the Conference. Delegates are invited to submit titles of papers along with abstracts of 300 words for consideration by the Scientific Committee. The abstract should include the title of the paper, name(s) of author(s), presenting author, affiliations including email addresses, key words, highlights of the study and conclusions. Abstracts should be submitted by 1st July, 2010 via email in Microsoft Word format to the Conference Secretariat at email: along with the completed registration form provided.

The time for an oral presentation is limited to 15 minutes plus 5 minutes for questions and

discussion. Participants are expected to support their participation in the meeting.


28th April 2010 1st Announcement

1st June 2010 2nd Announcement

1st July 2010 Submission of abstracts deadline

7th Aug 2010 Notification of acceptance

6th Sept 2010 Submission of papers

31st Aug 2010 Registration

16th – 19th Nov 2010 ARK II Conference



East African Nationals: US $ 50

East African Students: US$ 25

Foreigners: US$ 100

Foreign Students: US$ 50

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A new publication on the sea cucumber resources and fisheries management in the Western Indian Ocean

May 15th, 2010 No comments

A book with a chapter by Chantal Conand and Nyawira Muthiga on “The sea cucumber resources and fisheries management in the Western Indian Ocean: Current status and preliminary results from a WIOMSA regional research project has been published. The Abstract of the Chapter is attached below:

The sea cucumber fisheries of the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) have rapidly developed in the last decade and there is currently a general concern by national and international agencies (Fisheries depts, FAO, CITES) about better management of these fisheries. This has led to the initiation of a regional project with  funding from the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) for a 3-year multidisciplinary research. The project is carried out in Kenya, Madagascar, La Reunion, Seychelles and Tanzania. This paper presents a summary of the initial assessment of this study. The current status of the fishery shows a gradient, from 0 catches in La Reunion, to high levels of exploitation with variable stock depletion in the other countries.  The fishery management programmes in each country are also assessed; an analysis of the statistics of the sea cucumber fishery in the WIO (1994-2005) shows its importance. A synthesis of the main biological parameters of relevance to management for the commercial species (including distribution and abundance, reproduction, recruitment and catches) is presented, as well as the main socio-economic information  (including the status of fishers, processing, collectors, local and international markets). The major outcome of the project will be a better understanding of the sea cucumber resources of the region and the key management issues that will form the baseline management priorities for the region.

Full citation: Conand C. & Muthiga N. 2010. The sea cucumber resources and fisheries management in the Western Indian Ocean: Current status and preliminary results from a WIOMSA regional research project. 575-581. In Echinoderms: Durham. Harris et al. eds. Taylor & Francis, London.

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Poverty and the use of destructive fishing gear near east African marine protected areas

May 15th, 2010 No comments

A paper on “Poverty and the use of destructive fishing gear near east African marine protected areas” by Joshua Cinner has recently been published in the Environmental Conservation 36 (4): 321–326. The Summary of the paper is attached below:

Poverty may be an important influence on the exploitation of marine resources in tropical developing countries. A number of studies have hypothesized that destructive fishing gears, which can degrade habitat, capture high proportions of juvenile fish and ultimately lead to reduced yields, are primarily used by the poorer segments of society. However, few studies have empirically tested this relationship. This paper examines relationships between the use of destructive seine nets and thirteen socioeconomic conditions in communities adjacent to three peri-urban marine protected areas in east Africa. Fishers using destructive gears were younger, less likely to have capital invested in the fishery, had lower fortnightly expenditures and were poorer in two multivariate indices of material style of life. Based on the two multivariate material style of life indices, a binary logistic regression model classified whether fishers used destructive gears with almost 70% accuracy. These findings are broadly consistent with the literature on poverty traps, which are situations in which the poor are unable to mobilize the resources required to overcome low-income situations and consequently engage in behaviour that may reinforce their own poverty. Managers aiming to reduce destructive gear use may need to partner with civil society and donors to help break poverty traps.

This work was funded by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association through its MASMA Program.

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Demise of Madagascar’s Once Great Barrier Reef – Change in Coral Reef Condition Over 40 Years

May 14th, 2010 No comments

Alasdair Harris, George Manahira, Anne Sheppard, Charlotte Gough, and Charles Sheppard have recently published paper on “Demise of Madagascar’s Once Great Barrier Reef – Change in Coral Reef Condition Over 40 Years” in the Atoll Research Bulletin, whose abstract is attached below:

In the 1960s and 1970s the biology and geology of the Grand Récif of Tuléar, (now Toliara) in southwestern Madagascar, was thoroughly studied and reported. Toliara is the largest city in the south of the country, and the Grand Récif offshore provides both artisanal fisheries and coastal protection to the growing regional capital. Substantial research on the comparatively pristine reef was described in a volume of Atoll Research Bulletin in 1978. Since then, published scientific study of this reef has been largely lacking. The present study compares the condition of the Grand Récif of circa 40 years ago, with that seen in a brief resurvey undertaken in 2008, on transects corresponding to some of those documented previously. The trend has been of severe degradation; hard coral cover on the fore-reef slopes has declined substantially, and there has been a near total loss of the “architectural species” in particular. Coral has been replaced to great extent by fleshy algae. Observations also indicate severe decline on the broad reef flat, back reef and lagoon areas. Perhaps most seriously for the local fisheries and human communities, is that the fore reef is almost depleted in reef fish today.

Comparisons are made of coral cover, coral morphological types and fish trophic structure with other reefs in southern Madagascar, which are not located near large human populations. Although a rise in mean sea surface temperature has occurred throughout the region of approximately 1oC over this 40 year period, which is probably a contributing cause of decline throughout, the Grand Récif is in much worse condition than most of the more remote reefs with which it is compared. It is suggested that the main reasons for the substantial decline in the Grand Récif over the past 40 years lies in the fact that the region’s population has grown substantially, there is a complete lack of any resources management, heavy overfishing, and no pollution control, resulting in massively increased discharges of sewage, sediments and other pollutants.

Reef condition today is unrecognisable from that described in the 1970s. Unless far-reaching and effective management interventions are adopted to safeguard the Grand Récif the remaining ecosystem services upon which Toliara and its population depend will soon all but disappear.

The full article could be assessed from

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Marine reserves as linked social–ecological systems

May 14th, 2010 No comments

Richard Pollnac, Patrick Christie, Joshua E. Cinner, Tracey Dalton, Tim M. Daw, Graham E. Forrester, Nicholas A. J. Graham, and Timothy R. McClanahan recently published paper on “Marine reserves as linked social–ecological systems” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of United States of America.  

Marine reserves are increasingly recognized as having linked social and ecological dynamics. This study investigates how the ecological performance of 56 marine reserves throughout the Philippines, Caribbean, and Western Indian Ocean (WIO) is related to both reserve design features and the socioeconomic characteristics in associated coastal communities. Ecological performance was measured as fish biomass in the reserve relative to nearby areas. Of the socioeconomic variables considered, human population density and compliance with reserve rules had the strongest effects on fish biomass, but the effects of these variables were region specific. Relationships between population density and the reserve effect on fish biomass were negative in the Caribbean, positive in the WIO, and not detectable in the Philippines. Differing associations between population density and reserve effectiveness defy simple explanation but may depend on human migration to effective reserves, depletion of fish stocks outside reserves, or other social factors that change with population density. Higher levels of compliance reported by resource users was related to higher fish biomass in reserves compared with outside, but this relationship was only statistically significant in the Caribbean. A heuristic model based on correlations between social, cultural, political, economic, and other contextual conditions in 127 marine reserves showed that high levels of compliance with reserve rules were related to complex social interactions rather than simply to enforcement of reserve rules. Comparative research of this type is important for uncovering the complexities surrounding human dimensions of marine reserves and improving reserve management.

The full article could be assessed from

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Protected Coral Reefs Netting Greater Profits for Fishers

May 13th, 2010 No comments


Protected Coral Reefs Netting Greater Profits for Fishers

Wildlife Conservation Society’s Landmark Study Shows that Protecting Ocean Biodiversity While Increasing Profits for Coastal Communities is Possible

Findings May Turn Tide Toward New Era of Fishery Management

NAIROBI, KENYA (MAY 12, 2010) –The Wildlife Conservation Society today announced findings from a study showing that closures and gear restrictions implemented in fishing areas can increase fishery revenue and net profits. The landmark findings, presented today at the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Nairobi, Kenya will help usher in a new era of acceptance for fishery management solutions that provide for local communities while protecting the world’s priority seascapes.

The extensive 12-year study recorded information on 27,000 fish caught within three fishery locations on Kenya’s coast: one abutting an area closed to fishing; a second located far from the closure area and with restrictions on seine nets in place; and a third open to fishing without restrictions and located far from closure areas. In the first area, results showed that fish migrating into the fishery from the closure area included more preferred species, as well as larger fish. These fish commanded higher prices per pound. The surprising effect of the closure was an increase in revenue to the fishers. Further, the study found that restrictions on the use of seine nets in the second area also increased fishery revenue.                   

The study, by Wildlife Conservation Society Senior Conservationist Tim McClanahan, will appear in the May online edition of the journal Conservation Biology.  It is the first long-term study on the effects of fishery closures on fisher profits. The results indicated that the existing simplifications used in fisheries economic models tell only part of the story. By identifying the role that closures play on the types and size of fish caught, and the corresponding effect on pricing, McClanahan uncovered a more accurate and informative evaluation of fishers’ incomes – a discovery with potentially profound implications.

“Resistance to closures and gear restrictions from fishers and the fishing industry is based largely on the perception that these options are a threat to profits. These findings challenge those perceptions,” said McClanahan.  “By showing that prized species and larger fish are entering fisheries indirectly through the closures, we see that closures are a direct benefit to the fishers.”

The findings come as the Earth’s oceans are being fished beyond their limits and one third of all reef-building corals are threatened with extinction. Fishery closures are among the most effective solutions studied to protect reef areas and vital habitat for countless species to feed, grow and replenish their numbers—but are also perceived by fishers as a threat to profits. 

McClanahan’s in-depth empirical study indicated no long-term loss to fishers and instead led to more support for the concept of closing fisheries. Fishers eventually realized compensation in the form of a larger and more valuable catch—and in some cases—higher net incomes.

“Evidence indicating that these management options provide a long-term income and profit boost for individual fishers provides great hope for the world’s oceans and coastal economies,” said Dr. Caleb McClennen, Director of Marine Conservation for WCS. “A disproportionately high percentage of the world’s marine biodiversity is situated adjacent to developing coastal nations, where sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation are top priorities.”

The findings demonstrated that when evaluating and informing fishery management options, an analysis on how fish pricing is affected by closures and gear restrictions is essential. In addition, the findings show that management options serving multiple bottom-line interests may be within closer reach than previously believed—in Kenya and elsewhere. 

The Wildlife Conservation Society works to ensure protection of 90 percent of tropical coral reef biodiversity by improving conservation of priority seascapes in the Caribbean, Western Indian Ocean and the Coral Triangle.  Critical support for this study was provided by the Tiffany & Co. Foundation, the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association and the World Bank. 

In the United States, continued reauthorization of the Coral Reef Conservation Act and enhanced coordination and support from multilateral and federal institutions, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Agency for International Development, is critical to provide leadership assistance to the most vulnerable human populations in implementing innovative programs to address coastal poverty, the loss of marine biodiversity, and the imperative to adapt to the impacts of climate change.


The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide.  We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo.  Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony.  WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit:


Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to:


Climate Change Book Project: Call For Manuscripts

May 13th, 2010 No comments


United Nations Commission for Africa and ICSU Regional Office for Africa


(a) Climate Change Science and Sustainable Development: The African Experience,

(b) Climate Change Science, Technology and Innovations for Africa’s Sustainable Development, or

(c) The Science of Climate Change and Socio-Economic Prosperity in Africa.

* The title of the book will depend on its content


i) INTRODUCTION (including history, science of climate and impacts on human society, well-being and development in Africa; position of Africa in the global climate change context, vulnerability of Africa, need for African issues to be addressed, etc).

ii) SCIENTIFIC BASIS (including scientific based evidence of climate change in Africa and other robust findings –baseline studies, scenarios, etc; network of climate change scientists in Africa, data/databases, paleoclimate).

iii) SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS (including case studies of the current status in Africa with regards to technology, infrastructure, skilled personnel, etc; the role of the economy, policies, political conflicts, demography; agricultural products/territorial products (value added products); and regional initiatives and country experiences).

iv) OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES (opportunities including the abundance of natural resources – good quality soils, water, wind, solar; existence of opportunities to increase the crop and livestock production; challenges including communication and technology gaps, lack of infrastructure, health, demography, requisite technical skills, how to address brain drain and take advantage of the African Diaspora, lack of communication between researchers and policy-makers).

v) LINKING SCIENCE AND POLICY (including awareness creation and success stories; climate change and politics; innovative ways to improve the linkage between climate change scientists and policy makers.

vi) PROSPECTS, SOLUTIONS AND KEY RESPONSE STRATEGIES (including African centre for mediation and conflict resolution, innovative centres to come up with value added products, good governance, partnerships and international cooperation, strategy for adaptation and mitigation, resource mobilization and other institutional challenges).

NB: Please note that all the contributions to the book should focus on the science of climate change, mitigation and adaptation in Africa.



The deadline for submission is on Friday, 30 July 2010


Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to the following three contact persons:

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

Thierry H. Amoussougbo:;

ICSU Regional Office for Africa

Dr Daniel Nyanganyura:;

Dr Achuo A Enow:;


Ms Aida Opoku-Mensah:

Prof SM Muhongo:;

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Side event on “Building partnerships to improve the management of coastal and marine ecosystems” at the SBSTTA

May 12th, 2010 1 comment

Kenya Wildlife Service, WIOMSA and WCS are organizing a side event “Building partnerships to improve the management of coastal and marine ecosystems in the Western Indian Ocean” at the CBD Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) meeting that will be held at UNEP Nairobi, Kenya. The objective of the event is to showcase coastal and marine initiatives and collaboration between national, regional and international organizations in the Western Indian Ocean.  The side event will be held on the 14th May at 13:15 to 14:45 and will be chaired by the Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service.


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