The residents of the Wasini Island, Kenya, are no longer suffering the ravages of new fishing gear that is degrading the region’s marine ecosystem. They have decided to act and reapply a conservationist tradition which showed beneficial results on the local coral reefs.
Fishing has always been a way of making a living on this tiny island off the coast of southeastern Kenya. Rashid Mohamed, 68, a leader of one of the two villages on the island of Wasini, recalls that, when he was just a child, fishermen were using small sailing boats called dhows and traditional fishing gear. Back then, they avoided fishing in the island’s rich coral reefs.
But the new generations began to use motorboats and modern methods, such as destructive explosive fishing and ruined the corals.
“The boats and nets used in the past did not contribute so much to their loss,” Mohamed explains. The traditional importance of coral reefs’ conservation was also forgotten over time.
The Wasini Island’s community decided these practices were unsustainable and decided to protect the coral reefs and marine ecosystems, as well
East Africa has suffered significant coral depletion in the last two decades, including severe coral bleaching episodes in 1998 and 2016. These declines have jeopardized the essential services the corals provide, namely, they are fish habitat, tourist attractions, and barriers against storms and waves.
In a village on the island of Wasini, called Vumba, large dead mushroom-shaped atolls line the east coast and enter the sea, indicating the island’s long and rich history of coral reefs.
The mangroves, some recently replanted by the women of the village, are added to the exuberant surroundings.
However, over the past six years, the villagers of the island of Wasini have taken new steps to secure their livelihoods, replanting damaged reefs and taking action to end destructive fishing.
The success of its community conservation work could serve as a model for the rest of the region, as well as other regions around the world, even if it fails to solve all the increasingly complex problems facing this fragile ecosystem, that is coral reefs. At least the human footprint on corals is reduced now in that part of Kenya.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.