Mafia Island Marine Park, Tanzania: Implications of Applying a Marine Park Paradigm in a Developing Country
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The group of islands incorporating Mafia Island lie off the east coast of Africa and are a part of mainland Tanzania (Figure 1). The islands are within 20 km of the mainland coast and under the influence of Tanzania’s largest river, the Rufiji. Mafia Island Marine Park (MIMP) was gazetted in April 1995, and its boundary incorporates varied coral reef, mangrove, seagrass and soft bottom habitats, islands of raised Pleistocene reef, cays, and coastal forest with a total area of 821 km2 (Fig. 2). This paper critiques the process and motives for the establishment of the MIMP. The paper explores conservation advantages and disadvantages of the establishment of the Park and the use of the World Conservation Union/Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (IUCN/GBRMP) paradigm for its management. The premise that the project was a model of community participation and represents a new approach is challenged. The management of two key environmental threats (dynamite fishing and coral mining) are used to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of transposing conservation and management paradigms from developed countries to developing countries.
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