A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Coral reefs occupy less than 0.1% of the world's ocean area, yet they provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species. The coral reefs in Shimoni, Kenya are heavily damaged due to blast fishing in the past. This form of fishing is now prohibited and the local fisherman know how to catch fish sustainably. Restoring the local marine ecosystem here is important for the wellbeing of the ocean and the people. With our innovative modular building system for artificial reefs it is possible to restore a large part of the damaged ecosystem together with the local community. By cultivating new corals that are planted on our reefs, over time a new coral reef is created that provides habitat to all sorts of marine life. The reef location will become a Marine Protected Area (MPA), where no fishing activities are allowed. The ''spill-over'' effect of the MPA, will ensure a sustainable food supply for the communities of the surrounding fishing villages.
Read the full story with photo report below!
In the video's below the project is introduced. The video's are in Dutch, but one total English version is currently being produced. For more information and photos, please scroll down on this page.
Update 1: Introduction team and preparations
Update 2: Building local reef production workshop
Update 3: Installation of reefs & coral fragments
Stage 1: Setting up coral nurseries
In Southern Kenya lies the fishing village Shimoni. Here, an organization called REEFolution works together with the local community to cultivate climate resilient corals. Around 200 coral trees have been produced and installed in February 2021. Small pieces of living coral (Corals of Opportunity) are gathered and placed on the trees. After nurturing them for 5 months, these coral fragments have gained enough strength to be planted out to start forming a new coral reef.
Stage 2: Installing artificial reef pilot project
Together with the local community we have installed the Modular Sealife System as artificial reef. The unique modular system enables artificial reef installations without the use of heavy machinery. A lot was learned during the installation process and various improvements for future installations were identified. Only two days after installation the first visitors were already spotted!
Stage 3: Planting out new corals
Corals do not grow on all materials. To find out if the corals would adopt the new structures, various coral fragments were placed on the artificial reefs. We are looking forward to see how the corals will grow and what kind of species will be attracted by the artificial structures.
Stage 4: Monitoring the artificial reefs for two years
For 2 years the structures have been monitored by researchers from the Wageningen University and Reefolution Foundation. We were very happy to find out that the corals adopted the artificial structures as habitat and are showing healthy growth rates after placement. The monitoring surveys have also shown that the amount of fishes and variety of species in the area has increased compared to the situation prior to the reef installation. Now it is time to upscale this project to restore a larger area!
Stage 5: Set up local production facility to upscale project
With support of the AFAS Foundation we have been able to increase our positive impact with this project. In March, 2023 a local production facility was established to produce our unique modular artificial reefs locally. In collaboration with the local organization REEFolution we started to collaborate with the people living in Shimoni, Kenya. Together we can implement the MOSES system to rehabilitate the health of the coral reefs, create a sustainable food system for the community and stimulate ecotourism activities that are profitable for people and planet.
The goals of this project are to:
- Set up a local production facility for artificial reefs
- Install 1000m2 of reef in the first year
- Restore the damaged marine ecosystem
- Initiate the establishment of a Marine Protected Area
- Invest in future food supply (sustainable fishing)
- Create local employment
- Create an interesting dive site for eco-tourism
Stage 6: Start local reef production and install bigger reefs
The unique modular system enables transportation and construction of large artificial reefs with minimal resources and at low costs. Using only a small fishing boat, the individual blocks can be transported to the chosen reef site, where after the reefs can be constructed under water. A variety of complex shapes can be build to offer different microhabitats. The photos show that only a few days after installation various creatures such as octopus, puffer fish and mantis shrimp are already adopting the MOSES reef as habitat. REEFolution Foundation is monitoring the different species that are attracted to the newly created reef to measure the effects of the artificial reefs in the area.
Stage 7: Harvest and transplant corals for kickstart of ecosystem restoration
The transplantation of corals on artificial reefs is an effective way to kickstart the restoration of the health of damaged ecosystems. The first photo shows a MOSES reef with transplanted corals that were placed two years ago. During this time the different corals have fully taken over the structure with high survival- and growth rates. The local organization REEFolution Foundation has set up a large coral nursery in southern Kenya, where small pieces of coral are cultivated. More than 15.000 pieces of coral from 30 different species are grown here. The nurseries are set up in various locations and at different depths to learn more about the effects of different temperatures on growth- and survival rates. Researchers from Wageningen University & Research and Kenyatta University are gathering the data that is used to create insights into the cultivation of more heat resistant corals that can resist bleaching events in the future. The corals instantly attract fish that feed from the structures.
Stage 8: Spreading knowledge to other beach management units to upscale impact
While the reef production is running and the new underwater world is growing, workshops are given to other communities, Beach Management Units, and boat operators to teach interested people how coral reef restoration is done effectively. By teaching people hot to produce artificial reef structures, deployment planning, outplanting of corals and how to monitor results we can increase our impact!
Stage 9: Monitoring survival rate of transplanted corals & creating protected area
The newly transplanted corals show high survival rates and they are growing fast! We are very happy to see that these corals are adopting the new structures. During the monitoring of the coral growth, an increase in marine populations and biodiversity has also been observed. Furthermore the project area is now protected, which means that marine populations can repopulate without being disturbed.
Stage 10: Local revenues for upscaling & national news!
For the long-term upscaling of the project it is necessary to create revenue streams. By selling 'work-packages' to tourists and student-groups, income is created. These funds are used to buy more materials for the production of the artificial reefs and for the payment of salaries for the local community members that are involved in the project. Furthermore our efforts have been mentioned on the Dutch and the Kenyan national news! In the first video a compilation is shown of the first engagement of student groups with the restoration activities. The second video shows the Kenyan news item and the last video shows the Dutch news item.
More info coming soon
Stichting ReefSystems Foundation
ANBI: Afgegeven 16 juni 2022