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Support for Pemba Channel conservation
The reefs, islands and lagoons of Pemba's west coast are biologically unique.
The inshore waters of Pemba's 40-mile long west coast encompass arguably East Africa's most important concentration of marine biodiversity. The area contains many islets -- some uninhabited, most with fringing coral reefs; shallow lagoons; extensive coastal reef systems; and thick mangrove stands.

The west coast is heavily used for fishing, seaweed and shellfish culture, and mangrove cutting. Pemba has more than 360 villages, around half of which are on or near the coast. Because Pemba's east coast is not hospitable to small boats, fishers come from all over the island to work on the west side. So the marine resources of the west coast are intensively exploited, but they also provide a vital source of food for Pemba. Fresh fish is on sale every day in the town markets, and much finds its way throughout the island by means of an informal network of bicycle distributors. 

In spite of these pressures, the reefs and mangroves are still relatively healthy. But populations and exploitation are growing, and biologists have long understood that if the treasures of Pemba's west coast are to be preserved for the future, protective measures will have to be introduced. A start was made as far back as 1993, when one of the best of the fringing reef systems, around Misali Island, was made a conservation zone, with fisheries regulation enforced by a ranger patrol of local fishing people. The remarkable story of how this came about is told in a documentary, the making of which led to the formation of the Pemba Foundation.

Following the Misali success, the Zanzibar government declared the entire Pemba west coast a conservation area, PECCA: Pemba Channel Conservation Area. The Pemba Foundation is beginning a partnership with the Department of Marine Resources in the Pemba office of Zanzibar's Ministry of Fisheries, working with Ali Said Hamad (see profile below), the fisheries scientist and manager who sucessfuly set up the innovative Misali Island Conservation Area.

We are working with Ali on three projects:

Recruiting and funding for 4 new groups of community-based fisheries patrol rangers, based on the successful Misali Island model, to cover the length of PECCA.

A study of Pemba's potential for shellfish and sea cucumber mariculture, as a way to reduce pressures on wild resources.

Mangrove restoration to counter existing areas of over-exploitation, and as a defense against sea level rise.


Profile: fisheries scientist and manager Ali Said Hamad
Ali Said Hamad is a highly experienced fisheries scientist and manager, with extensive international training. A Pemba native, he studied fisheries science and conservation at Kunduchi Fisheries Training and Research Institute, Dar es Salaam; Rhodes University, South Africa; and the University of Kent, UK. He is now a planning officer in the Zanzibar government's Department of Marine Resources, based in Pemba. 

Both in his professional and volunteer work, Ali is especially interested in a community-based approach to conservation and regulation. He was a key figure in the establishment of the Misali Island Conservation Association (MICA), the success of which is largely due to its thorough integration into the fishing communities that neighbor the island. Ali has published academically on the Misali experience, and also derived a handbook for coastal managers in the western Indian Ocean. After MICA, Ali took a leading role in setting up the larger marine protected area of Pemba Channel Conservation Area (PECCA), and is now its manager. 

Ali has been running a community-based turtle conservation and monitoring program for over 18 years, and volunteers in supporting Pemba's communities in need.

Ali collaborates closely with the Pemba Foundation in the pursuit of Pemba's marine conservation goals. He speaks Swahili and English. Reach him at ash.asfsay@yahoo.com.