Mozambique creates Africa’s largest coastal marine reserve

The Government of Mozambique announced today the creation of the largest marine protected area in Africa. Made up of ten islands off the coast of northern Mozambique, this coastal marine reserve in the Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago will cover more than 4020 square miles and contains abundant coral and turtle species.

WWF has worked for eight years to secure this protected area, threatened by overfishing and unauthorised tourism.

“This is a great response to the appeal by local communities to help them protect their resources,” said Florêncio Marerua, WWF-Mozambique´s 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.”

Located in the northern region of the country, between Nampula and Zambezia Provinces, the declaration of the Primeiras and Segundas protected area is the second major conservation area to be declared within the last two years.

The Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago includes the most robust and diverse coral community in Mozambique. It is rich in mangroves, marine life, deep underwater canyons and large seagrass beds. 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.

The area is also of great economic importance. Artisanal, semi-industrial, and industrial fishermen have been carrying out their fishery activities in the same area. Thus, all fishing activity within the archipelago area shows signs of overexploitation, with some species on the brink of collapse.

"The declaration of Primeiras and Segundas is an incredible achievement for both marine conservation and the people who depend on these resources. Mozambique's coast feeds hundreds of thousands of people. The stunning reefs, islands, and marine life will now be protected. We won a victory today with the declaration of Primeiras and Segundas--a great triumph for protecting the world’s marine environment," said Caroline Simmonds, Deputy Director for WWF-US’s Coastal East Africa Program.

About Care-WWF Alliance

The Coastal Communities initiative of the CARE-WWF Alliance works with communities and partners at the local, national and regional level to secure a healthy marine ecosystem along the coast of Mozambique.

In the Primeiras and Segundas region, the CARE-WWF Alliance has engaged with more than 10,000 coastal households since 2008, and results so far include:

Developing marine sanctuaries to facilitate rebounding fish stocksIntroducing new conservation agriculture techniques to increase productivity and ecosystem servicesOrganizing community associations and village savings and loans to expand markets and income from fishing and agricultural activities

The Coastal Communities initiative is just the beginning. The Alliance represents a 10-year commitment to realizing community-based natural resource management on a scale never before achieved. The aim is to not only protect marine areas but sustainably manage the natural resources for the benefit and enhanced livelihoods of local coastal communities.

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