“It’s really a great honor. It is one of only 30 projects from North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa to be chosen as a solution for the oceans of the continent”, says Dr. Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles’ CEO on his return from the African Forum on Solutions for Oceans, Coasts and Human Well-Being held last week in Zanzibar and where the African Blue Solutions were rolled out and showcased. 125 delegates from all over Africa and from international and regional agencies were present. The delegates were welcomed by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) which has its headquarters in Zanzibar.
Reef Rescuers is the largest successful coral reef restoration project in the world using a method called coral gardening. Implementation started in 2011 and more than 41,000 small fragments of 42 species of corals were grown in underwater nurseries off Praslin Island. After a year in the nurseries the corals were transplanted in a reef area in the Cousin Island Special Reserve which had been destroyed by coral bleaching. “The size of the transplanted site is simply stupendous being larger than a football field” said another Blue Solution winner from Egypt during Dr. Shah's presentation of the project.
Underwater nurseries were created using fragments of corals that survived earlier bleaching events
Blue Solutions are “innovative concepts and practical approaches that inspire and facilitate action towards healthy and productive marine and coastal ecosystems”. The Blue Solutions Project provides global platform to collect, share and generate knowledge for sustainable management and fair governance of our blue planet. The project aims to identify, develop and promote Blue Solutions, demonstrate action to achieve Blue Solutions, connect and assist Blue Solutions actors and support processes to facilitate Blue Solutions.
“The Blue Solutions identified for Africa will provide a platform for decision-makers and practitioners from Africa to exchange experiences and solutions in marine and coastal development planning, management and governance. The forum aims to inspire participants and is already helping to facilitate the adaptation of successful experiences,” said Ilona Porsche from the German government’s overseas development agency GTZ in her opening remarks.
“Our reef project has attracted a lot of attention and many people want to replicate it. But I have also learnt from some other Blue Solutions presented and have been able to develop a few good contacts for new projects in coral genetics, sustainable tourism and climate adaptation.” said Shah. Shah a founding board member and past President of WIOMSA also visited the WIOMSA headquarters and discussed future WIOMSA programs with the Executive Secretary Julius Francis. “This was a great opportunity to brainstorm new ideas for WIOMSA to take forward for the region. There are exciting prospects for the sustainable management of oceans especially since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include Goal 14 which cover oceans and also because the Blue Economy concept launched by the Seychelles’ President has been picked up by the island and coastal states in our region” concludes Shah.