Assessment of Coral Reef Degradation in Tanzania: Results of Coral Reef Monitoring 1999
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Coral reefs play a crucial role in the well being of coastal communities in Tanzania (Johnstone et al., 1998; Muhando, 1999). However, despite their usefulness, coral reefs are being degraded by destructive anthropogenic activities (Salm et al., 1998) and natural causes (e.g., competition, predation, diseases, bleaching, etc.). The coral bleaching and mortality event of March - June 1998 was the most serious natural calamity ever recorded in the Indian Ocean (Wilkinson, et al., 1999). Several areas along the coast of Tanzania were affected. The degree of coral mortality varied between sites, from 60% - 90% at Tutia Reef in Mafia Island Marine Park and Misali Reef on the west coast of Pemba, to approximately 10% on reefs around Unguja Island, Zanzibar (Muhando, 1999). After the bleaching and coral mortality, the status of Tanzanian reefs became unclear and it was apparent that there was a need to assess and monitor the extent of coral mortality and its effects on reef ecosystems, as well as socio-economic effects (fisheries and tourism). Three teams were formed. The first dealt with the assessment and monitoring of coral reefs, the second with socio-economic effects and the third team investigated specific issues relevant to coral bleaching, mortality and recovery.
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