Status Of Coral Reefs In The South West Indian Ocean Island Node: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion And Seychelles
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A regional monitoring network of the GCRMN was formed just after the major coral bleaching event in 1998. The goal was to assist the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles manage their reef resources within the Regional Environment Programme of the Indian Ocean Commission. The Node is now being financed for 3 years by the Global Environment Facility (GEF and World Bank) and the European Union to continue coral reef monitoring to strengthen the capacity of national networks to provide data and advice for resource management. The extent of monitoring has increased from 43 stations in 1999/2000 to more than 70 stations in 2002, with more than 20 stations in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The trend on Comoros is for considerable coral regeneration following the 1998 bleaching. The recovery in the Moheli MPA is greater than in Grande Comoros, where regeneration and coral growth is slow. There is an urgent need for rational management of fishing, extraction of materials, and urbanisation on the coasts. In Madagascar, there are signs of damage on reef flats near human activities (North West, South East, East coast), whereas isolated reef slopes are in better condition. Reefs in Mauritius continue to be relatively stable, although domestic and agricultural pollution at some sites continues to degrade the coral reefs. While the damage in not alarming, the authorities should implement management to control damaging activities. Six new sites were added in 2002 on Rodrigues using GCRMN recommended methods. Coral communities on the fringing reefs have a healthy cover of hard coral, although species diversity is not high. The principal trends over 4 years on La Reunion are for relative stability of coral cover and fish populations in the Saint-Leu and Saint Gilles sectors. Corals on the inner granite islands of the Seychelles remain severely degraded since the 1998 bleaching event, however, there has been a slight increase in coral cover and more recruitment in the last 2 years. Coral bleaching and mortality in 1998 was most severe in the north (Seychelles and Comoros), whereas there was rapid recovery on Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion, after less severe bleaching. There was localised bleaching in 2001 in Reunion, and in March 2002 on Rodrigues and Seychelles. The coral reef monitoring is fulfilling a need for the data as the foundation for Integrated Coastal Management.
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