The Africa Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa and Indian Ocean (MarCOSIO) consortium lead Mr Sives Govender was among the 54 participants who attended the Blue Economy Science-Policy Interface workshop at Pride Inn Paradise Resort in Mombasa, Kenya.
The Future of Coral Reefs in the Western Indian Ocean: Challenges and Commitments
As the 2023 bleaching season comes to an end, the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region can breathe a sigh of relief. Over the past three years, the WIO has experienced lower occurrences of coral bleaching, thanks to cooler seasons that have contributed to a positive trend in coral reef health. This encouraging development has brought hope to those dedicated to preserving and protecting these vital ecosystems. However, looming climate predictions indicate potential challenges ahead. In this blog post, we will explore the changing landscape of the WIO and discuss the importance of remaining proactive in our conservation efforts.
Changing Climate Patterns
The current predictions point towards significant changes in climatic conditions in the WIO region. Both the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO, left) and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD, right) are expected to turn positive in the coming months, indicating the likelihood of warmer summers and widescale bleaching events. This projection raises concerns about the future health of coral reefs in the region.
The Call to Action
While we cannot accurately predict the timing or severity of future bleaching events, these forecasts serve as a wake-up call to remain vigilant and proactive in our conservation endeavors. It is crucial that we take steps to mitigate the impact of bleaching events and secure the long-term survival of coral reefs and the rich marine biodiversity they support.
To address these challenges, CORDIO, along with its partners, is actively engaging in the Global Monitoring of Environment and Security in Africa (GMES and Africa) project. Through this collaboration, CORDIO will review and enhance coral bleaching predictors, ensuring improved accuracy and precision in predicting these events. By strengthening our understanding of the factors contributing to coral bleaching and knowledge management and sharing, we can better prepare for and mitigate its impact.
Early Engagement and Training
In addition to predictive measures, early engagement and training on coral bleaching observations are essential to empower our ground partners. By equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify and respond to bleaching events, we can ensure a timely and effective response in the years to come. Together, we can minimize the damage caused by bleaching and protect these vulnerable ecosystems.
An Opportunity for Renewed Commitment
While the predicted changes pose significant challenges, they also present an opportunity to renew our commitment to coral reef conservation. By acting collectively, we can make a meaningful difference in safeguarding the future of these fragile ecosystems. Let us embrace this chance to redouble our efforts and work towards a sustainable future for coral reefs in the WIO region.
The three include Dr Bolelang Sibolla from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) who leads the technical team in developing the Safety at Sea service, Dr Yohana Wilson Shaghude from the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) serving as a research coordinator under the project, and Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute’s (KMFRI) Dr Immanuel Mbaru who is the thematic expert under MarCOSIO.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) registered a strong presence in the just concluded Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Southern African Regional Workshop held in Luanda Angola.
As the 2023 bleaching season comes to an end, the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region can breathe a sigh of relief. Over the past three years, the WIO has experienced lower occurrences of coral bleaching, thanks to cooler seasons that have contributed to a positive trend in coral reef health.
Coral bleaching alerts are out!! According to research findings by CORDIO East Africa (www.cordioea.net), a MarCOSIO partner under the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security http://gmes.africa-union.org/ and Africa Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa https://marcosio.org/ project, the overall coral bleaching risk in Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region in 2023 is quite low.