MAFIA ISLAND MARINE PARK MANAGEMENT, TANZANIA

Background;
Tanzania’s 900 km of coastline is narrow, and, for about two thirds of its length, consists of fringing and patch reefs close to the land. These are broken by freshwater outlets such as the River Rufiji, which culminates in a 1022 sq km delta and extensive mangrove stand. The coral reef and mangrove swamp are separated by a lagoon. The reef, lagoon, and mangrove swamp form three ecosystems which have a complex interrelationship;
·       Destruction of corals leads to loss of a naturally repairing system of breakwaters which protect the inshore ecosystems from erosion.
·       Overexploitation of mangroves can lead to loss of erosion controls and higher offshore nutrient and sediment loads.
·       Removal of seagrass and algae areas releases sediments and nutrients to choke coral reefs. Mangrove stands are exposed to increased wave action.

Aims of coastal management;
In the context of these three ecosystems, the objectives of sustainable integrated coastal management can be summarised as follows;
·       Physical protection of the coastal areas from forces leading to erosion and habitat loss.
·       Harnessed productivity from the coastal areas - vital for the support of local populations, and for generating income from commercial stocks.
·       Recreation and tourist development - Tanzania has an Economic Recovery Programme, part of which envisages the expansion of foreign currency earnings. Tourism is an important part of this goal and the coral reefs are a particularly attractive tourist spot.

Present Status and Problems;
The coastal zone of Tanzania has long been settled by communities without damage to the environment. Population was well within the carrying capacity of the environment.

In recent times, development and technological change has led to an increase in both population totals and their rate of consumption of coastal resources. These have had negative social effects as economic decline has been fuelled by the alteration to the quality and diversity of the coastal resources.
Some of the many economic activities threatening the fragile ecosystem are;
·       Discharge of raw sewage and effluent; particularly around and down current of industrial and urban areas.
·       Dynamite fishing; the illegal use of dynamite to kill and stun fish. This is a particular problem around Dar-es-Salaam, and has been recognised since the 1960s. it destroys the physical structure of the reef and kills virtually all organisms within a 15m blast radius.
·       Coral mining; the removal of live coral for the tourist and curio trade, and of fossilised coral rock for building purposes. The material is chose, collected by boat at low water, and left to dry. For lime, the rock is burned over a fire made from locally collected wood. Various consistency mixtures with sand, water, and ground coral forms products from cement to fine plaster.
·       Hydrocarbon extraction; limited at present to the Songo Songo gas field. New fuel sources are need to further national economic development and to reduce foreign dependency. Much of the coastal geology is thought to be suitable, though test drilling has so far not yielded commercially exploitable reserves.
·       Seaweed farming; important as a means of diversification, but suffers the problems associated with cash crops. Could lead to biodiversity loss if employed on a large scale through the creation of monoculture communities. Little is known about the effects of introducing new varieties of seaweed.
·       Salt production; by evaporation. Hyper saline seawater is boiled, usually using mangrove wood for fuel because it is readily available. Crude process, leading to the destruction of large areas of mature trees.
·       Fisheries; at all scales, from subsistence to commercial, taking fin-fish, octopus, sea-cucumber, crayfish and edible shellfish. This is a complex set of activities, involving many variables, including season and the state of the tide.
·       Tourism; rapidly growing industry which the government is keen to promote. Coastal tourism includes sea-faris, game fishing, snorkelling and diving, as well as typical beach activities. Tourists, per capita, are the major consumers of resources (water, fuel, foods) and their presence can damage the natural environment (insensitive development, poor diving etiquette, curio trade) and lead to cultural conflicts (dress code and beach access)

Initial Management Responses;

In response to the actual and perceived pressure, eight areas were designated as Marine Reserves by the Ministry of Natural Resources in 1975. No extractive industry was permitted within these areas, tourism and science only were allowed. Outside of these small areas, existing fisheries regulations applied. The Marine Reserves were known as ‘paper parks’ because they had very little functional value. In the planning stage, inadequate consideration was given to their objectives, to the desires and requirements of locals and the possible integration of international aims. The enforcement agency, the Dept. of Fisheries was beset by a poor mandate, and a lack of finance and resources. Corruption was widespread, fines were small.

The New Management Approach
The aims of the new approach are to satisfy environmental, economic and social objectives in order to ensure;

Maximum sustainable economic benefit from the long term yield of natural resources.
Maintenance of the conditions and productivity of the natural environment.
Allocation of resources between competing uses and users.

The original Marine Reserves aimed at protecting small areas through a rigid management strategy, but were unable to cope with multifaceted threats to the natural environment. To achieve the management aims listed above requires an area large enough to justify investment in an integrated conservation and development project (ICDP). Each ecosystem has its own management requirements for conservation purposes and thus the large, well defined area is zoned according to its use and users. A management plan is devised for each zone, detailing the activities which are permitted within it, and this plan is integrated with the overall goals for the entire project area.

The Mafia Island Marine Park

The condition of much of the ecosystems of Tanzania is critical. To develop a comprehensive system of management requires a suitable location to develop a pilot strategy, solving real management issues, which once seen to work can be extended to the rest of the coastline.
Mafia Island, which forms part of the coral reef lies 60km south of Dar-es-Salaam, and opposite the Rufiji delta. In many ways, it is an ideal location for the siting of Tanzania’s first National Marine Park. For example;
·       Administration. The area comprises a single administrative district. This simplifies the exchange of information, and means that decisions can be made on site, with minimal bureaucratic involvement.
·       Close knit community; the 30000 population is organised through a Muslim system of elders and exhibits a high degree of solidarity. Their local knowledge and continuous presence are vital in the five main areas of information gathering, consultation, decision-making, initiating action and evaluation. Much impetus for the designation of Mafia Island as a Marine National Park has come from the local population  who have been encouraged to adopt a participatory approach.
·       Unspoiled natural resources; the marine resources around the island are among the richest in East Africa. They have largely escaped the disastrous fishing methods which have contributed to widespread habitat loss in areas near to large population centres. Mafia Island’s resources are not only marine, but also include coastal forest remnants, and populations of bats, dikker, honey bees, fish eagles, and hippopotamuses; all of which are important intrinsically and for the tourist market.
·       Geographical location; the overexploitation of resources elsewhere is a threat to Mafia Island, and the local’s monopoly of fishing rights. The widespread scarcity of fish has increased its commercial value. As inshore areas become depleted, fishermen from Dar-es-Salaam, and elsewhere, extend their searches further south to fishing grounds like Mafia Island.
·       Hydrographical location; especially important in national and regional context. Mafia Island and the Kitutia Marine Reserve have potential seed bank properties with respect to many of the overexploited areas further north. The predominantly north flowing East African coastal current is thought to play an important role in spreading marine plankton and larvae.

Mafia Island’s Future;
Widespread efforts to stop coral mining have been boosted with examples like the runway contractors switching to the more expensive imported concrete. This cost will be met by the intended users.
On Mafia Island, the development of resource use, the protection of the ecosystem, and the development of tourism are all seen as equally and vitally important goals. The area deemed most suitable for tourism almost totally overlaps the best conserved ecosystems. Ultimately, the users will be allocated and zones designed in accordance with the objectives defined by the ICDP.
The Mafia Island Project, though yet to be officially legislated, is one of the few example of effective community management. In the project, identification and resolution of the present and envisaged conflicts is given the highest priority. It is a long term process.