There are 10 countries in the WIO GCRMN network; Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Reunion, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania. Each country has an active National Coral Reef committee or task force, which works under the regional Coral Reef Task Force (CRTF).
The coral reef monitoring in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) has been undertaken using the umbrella of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) and the Nairobi Convention’s CRTF, since the late 1990s. The CRTF was constituted by a decision of the Nairobi Convention in 2001, with a representative from each country.
Traditionally, the southwest Indian Ocean islands (SWIO) and the mainland East Africa nodes of the GCRMN have operated independently, but in the last decade, these have been integrated more closely through the CRTF. This effort is supported through projects in the Marine Programme of the Indian Ocean Commission – the ISLANDS Project (2009-13) and Biodiversity Project (2014-2018).
Developed two monitoring manuals
The coral reef monitoring manual was developed on the basis of the regional monitoring assessment findings, that programs have been using a diverse set of methods with increasing divergence from initial guidance under the GCRMN. The manual focused on the main methods currently use with the objectives to a) streamline programs into using a narrower set of methods with greater compatibility and renewed standards and guidance, and b) providing a clear ‘ramp’ for improving data quality, such as in increasing replication and using higher level identifications (full manual here).
The coral bleaching monitoring manual was produced in response to the third global coral bleaching event, and predictions of the high likelihood of bleaching in the region in the January – May 2017 warm season. As with the regular monitoring manual, a survey of dominant methods was undertaken, and multiple level methods were described to streamline both first/visual estimates of bleaching and quantitative in situ recording (full manual here).
The regional network has undertaken a number of activities over the last few years, with a strong focus on strengthening the network, developing capacity among researchers on coral reef monitoring particularly coral bleaching, and trying to develop a simple coral reef database for safe and secure storage of data. These objectives have been achieved through meetings, workshops, webinars, publication of user-friendly manuals, training and other measures.
- A reef networking meeting was held in Albion, Mauritius from 24th-26th February 2015, as a final activity for the ISLANDS Project and an initiation for the Biodiversity Project. The purpose of the meeting was to revitalise the regional coral reef monitoring network and the CRTF, by consolidating methods and further discussions on data management and a regional database. Link to the workshop report here.
- Capacity building – coral reef monitoring. The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) organised a regional workshop for exchanges and training on drafting the GCRMN regional report for the WIO. The event was held in Fumba, Zanzibar, from 17th to 19th May 2016. The workshop was supported through the IOC’s Biodiversity project, which is funded by the European Union. As the workshop was essentially of a technical nature, participating countries, (IOC member states & Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa) were represented by their respective Coral Reef Task-Force (CRTF) national coordinators and national consultants contracted to assist the reporting process. The agenda also included a practical training session on coral bleaching monitoring.
Webinars hosted by The Nature Conservancy’s Reef Resilience network