Maputo — The World Wide Fund for Nature has welcomed the Mozambican government’s decision to declare the Primeira and Segundas (literally first and second) Islands, off the coasts of Zambezia and Nampula provinces, a marine protected area.
A WWF statement notes that the two archipelagos, consisting of a total of ten islands, are now Africa’s largest coastal marine reserve, covering an area of over 1,040,926 hectares,
“WWF has worked for eight years to secure this marine reserve, threatened by overfishing and unauthorised tourism”, says the statement.
“This is a great response to the appeal by local communities to help them protect their resources,” said Florêncio Marerua, the WWF Mozambique Country Director. “This is a very important step in our effort to achieve the conservation and sustainable management of Mozambique’s marine and coastal resources, as this adds a globally significant area to the network of marine protected areas along the country’s coast.
It is particularly exciting that both the government authorities and local communities recognise the benefits of conserving these resources.”
These islands contain what WWF describes as “the most robust and diverse coral community in Mozambique”.
“Due to cold nutrient-rich upwellings, the Archipelago is spared coral bleaching, a common problem in other coral-rich areas, making these some of the most globally productive and important reefs on the planet”, it adds.
“This declaration by the Government shows they understand and care about the need for conservation of marine resources to support sustainable use by their communities”, said John Tanzer, Director of WWF’s Global Marine Program.
“Protecting the rich natural resources of this magnificent area will make a major contribution to the long term food security and livelihoods of the people of the region. It is also a significant contribution by Mozambique to safeguarding the future of the world’s marine environment more generally and deserves recognition and congratulations to all concerned who worked together to make it possible.”