Thursday, 4 February 2016

Kenya's Coral Reef Is Officially Dead


Kenya's coral reefs dying and devoid of fish life

As an underwater photographer, author, filmmaker and marine enthusiast for over 30 years it saddens me to make such a horrifying but necessarily blunt conclusion that our fringing coral reef that runs along the Kenyan coast, is practically dead and almost naturally beyond biological recovery. 

Having dived the waters from Lamu Kenya all the way down to Mnemba Island in Tanzania, and regularly comparing these various snorkeling and diving spots over a period of time, it has not come as a surprise to see that our reef biodiversity has disappeared at an alarming rate. 

The protected marine parks have only managed to retain about 40% of their marine life in the last ten years, while the reserves and all other marine water bodies that are falling outside the marine parks protection have lost over 95% of the marine life they contained ten years ago. To directly put the latter into real life perspective, if your entire human body was Kenya's coral reef, you would now be completely paralysed from head to toe ... with only your heart beating!!

Using the quadrant sampling technique at various sites along the coast which included but was not limited to; underwater depths of about three meters by glass bottomed boat, diving depths up to 12 meters, throw distance from the shore, in the lagoons, creeks and on the reef platforms. Observations were collected relating to the number of living species found inside the quadrant and also of the fish that swam over the quadrant over a period of five minutes. 

As the above real life results indicate, less than 5% of our waters contain macro organisms such as fish, crustaceans, invertebrates and marine mammals.

So what must be done to immediately slow down the complete extinction of Kenya's marine biodiversity?

1. Immediate stop to ring net fishing
2. Immediate stop to all beach net seining in the creeks and marine reserves
3. Complete ban on sand dredging in Kenyan waters
4. Formation of a Municipal Council marine garbage team to clean the beaches daily
5. Stop both industrial and residential pollution of waters
6. Shake up the fisheries and other relevant environmental government departments
7. Legally enforce minimum catch sizes and create daily catch quotas
8. Ban on plastic bags
9. Empower and equip law enforcement to fulfill all the above

The above may seem quite drastic, however at our current position, only the immediate implementation of the above practices will help Kenya's reefs and its marine life from becoming extinct.


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