This article is written by Ekaterina Kalashnikova, with contribution from Dr. Mario Lebrato.
Global food security is highly dependent on marine resources, and it’s critical in the coastal areas where local communities rely on fish as their main protein intake. Mozambique’s extensive coastline stretches for almost 2700 kilometres, providing home for two thirds of its fast-growing population, making 20 million of people depend on the ocean for their livelihood. Semi-industrial and industrial fisheries are essential components of the national economy through exports, national food security and jobs; artisanal fisheries play an important subsistence role for coastal communities.
Worryingly, overfishing and lack of information about the status of stocks are hindering efforts to achieve fisheries sustainability, and most of the fish stocks are in a long-term decline. Combined with other pressing threats, such as global environmental changes resulting in warmer waters, more frequently happening heatwaves and habitat destruction, depleted fish stocks might peril national economy, social well-being, and environment, and urgent actions are thus required to ensure fisheries sustainability and adequate national marine resources management.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), such as the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, proved to be instrumental towards protecting marine biodiversity and habitats critical to the survival of marine species.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are proven to be instrumental towards protecting marine biodiversity and habitats critical to the survival of marine species. They are providing essential functions, including serving as a climate change refuge, as well as generating a spill-over effect that is important for replenishment of the depleted fish stocks outside MPAs. These spill-over effects may play a crucial role in the local social economy of areas such as the Bazaruto Archipelago. Achieving MPA’s effectiveness in the light of climate change is one of the critical challenges facing West Indian Ocean (WIO), as it’s evident that this region is affected by increased number and duration of climate-related extreme events, most recently by cyclone Freddy.
Read also: Cyclone Freddy: Impact on Benguerra Island and marine environment
The first part of the project (one of 9 research cruise legs), took place in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (BANP), with BCSS being the host, logistics provider, and an implementing scientific partner on the ground.
The ReMoTURB project is a multi-stakeholders initiative that focuses on strengthening fisheries and food security in Mozambique through planning for climate change resilience within an MPA network. BCSS is privileged to be part of the ReMoTURB implementation and to be working with InOM (formerly IIP), NMU, SAEON and Nelson Mandela University in achieving project objectives.
In a nutshell, the project aims to assess changes in physical oceanographic processes such as mesoscale eddies, water column thermal structure, looking at potential impacts on coral reef and seagrass systems as well as associated fish communities, all by using modern technologies and highly professional expertise.
A CTD unit was used for the hydrographic surveys measuring vertical profiles of temperature, salinity, depth, oxygen, chlorophyll-a concentration, turbidity, and photosynthetically active radiation. This instrument was deployed in various transects in the BANP to understand physicochemical and biological properties distribution over time and space.
The first part of the project (one of 9 research cruise legs), took place in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (BANP) in March 2023 with BCSS being the host, logistics provider, and an implementing scientific partner on the ground. The project was further supported by ANAC and African Parks, who will be widely benefiting from the databases generated to incorporate findings into their research management plans, and policy-making decisions. Such multi-disciplinary projects are pivotal in Mozambique to understand complex oceanic processes affecting ecosystem services, and ultimately resources exploited in the country.
During the 14 days that BCSS hosted the first cruise leg, an array of observation mooring stations and sensors were successfully deployed, including high-resolution thermistors (both shallow water and shelf-breaking arrays) that are designed for collecting data on water column temperature and currents. Some of the thermistors were paired with an Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP), which measure current speed and direction. UTR sensors were permanently established at strategic points. These stations will remain deployed for 14 months aiming to detect and shed light on water upwelling and marine heatwave events in this area. The in-situ data will be combined with remote sensing time-series data to pair physical with biological oceanography via productivity (Chlorophyll a), and gain a wider understanding of the system.
BCSS acts as the host, logistics provider, and an implementing scientific partner on the ground.
An automatic weather station was installed at the BCSS communications tower premises for the meteorological measurements which will help to better understand ocean-atmosphere coupling that influence the development of upwelling, climate change, day-to-day variability, and extreme events.
High resolution data obtained by and in collaboration with BCSS will be used to investigate for the first-time coastal wind-driven upwelling and offshore mesoscale eddies – events fundamental for bringing cold, and nutrient rich waters from the great depths to the surface directly contributing to the ocean productivity that’s essential for biodiversity and biomass.
Coral reef and seagrass ecosystems fish biodiversity was assessed using stereo Baited Remote Underwater Video (sBRUV) sampling. The technology employs a pair of video cameras with a small canister of bait attached to the camera frame, to attract fish. The BRUVs technology is non-destructive, allowing it to be used in marine parks or sensitive habitats. The use of video cameras in stereo allows for accurate and precise estimates of fish lengths, which enables accurate estimates of the weight (biomass) and life stage of each animal. Hundreds of hours of footage were collected, which, once analysed, will be used for relative abundance of fishes and its biomass estimations.
Coral reef and seagrass ecosystems fish biodiversity was assessed using stereo Baited Remote Underwater Video (sBRUV) sampling. The technology employs a pair of video cameras with a small canister of bait attached to the camera frame, to attract fish. The BRUVs technology is non-destructive, allowing it to be used in marine parks or sensitive habitats.
Fieldwork was conducted in extremely challenging weather conditions, as the archipelago has just experienced a major cyclone, and swell were 2 to 3 m on a daily basis. However, BCSS professional logistics and research team confidently handled the environmental challenges enabling smooth deployments for the ReMoTURB project.
This project will inform future conservation planning in the area by assisting in the proposal of new or extension of existing MPAs along the entire coast of Mozambique. BCSS contributes towards these conservation goals through logistical, operational, training and analytical support at the individual MPA scale, as part of the broader efforts to conserve and protect biodiversity of the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region.Activities brought together national and international marine science professionals, MPA management, conservationists, and government representatives, as well as provided an excellent learning platform for national and international students. We are greatly looking forward to the next phases of the project that are already lined up for 2023 and 2024.
For questions about this article, please contact:Ekaterina Kalashnikova, Bazaruto Center for Scientific StudiesEkaterina.Kalashnikova@bcssmz.org
Bazaruto Center for Scientific StudiesHost of the first permanent Ocean Observatory focused on multi-ecosystem time series research in Africa, the Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies (BCSS) was established in 2017 as in independent, non-profit organisation with a mission to protect and support the fragile ecosystems of the Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique. The research station is located on Benguerra Island, off the coast of Mozambique.
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
WHO WE AREOur MissionStation & FacilitiesThe BCSS TeamPartners
WHAT WE OFFERLogistical SupportInternships & Volunteering
NEWS & PRESS
© COPYRIGHT 2021 BCSS
THE OCEAN OBSERVATORY
Receive monthly updates about our research, projects, new papers and spectacular wildlife encounters, straight into your inbox.