A small, quiet village in Kenya has found a new purpose in the fishing industry through a successful marine coral conservation project, the first of its kind in the Marine Protected Areas of the western side of the Indian Ocean.
Kenya’s Kuruwitu Beach is tranquil. Sparkling sand beaches complement the clear blue water, and the familiar scent of sand and sea salt fill the air.
A decade ago, villagers noticed the dwindling stocks of fish and took it upon themselves to set up a conservation area with the help of like-minded partners.
Dickson Gereza is a marine conservationist and the program lead of the coral project, and he explains that pollution is the biggest enemy of the ocean: “People are being irresponsible”, he says. “The ocean is a useful resource, but humans are trashing it. It is important to dispose of rubbish correctly to save the ocean”.
First local coral conservation project
The community realized that overfishing, climate change, and uncontrolled fish and coral collection by the aquarium trade needed to be addressed before the marine ecosystem was damaged beyond repair.
In 2005, residents of the area took the unprecedented step of setting aside a 30-hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA). This was the first coral-based Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) in Kenya. Twelve years on, the area has made a remarkable recovery.