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Status reports from different regions 4 (10): status report Kenya
Obura, D. (1999). Status reports from different regions 4 (10): status report Kenya. CORDIO-East Africa: [s.l.]. 5 pp.

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    Corals; Marine

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  • Obura, D.

    Kenya’s coastal population is expected to exceed 2 million people by the year 2000, with an annual growth rate of 3.7%, of which a large proportion is due to migration of people from other parts of Kenya. Increasing economic activity, due to shipping, freight handling and tourism, provides a strong draw for migrant workers, as well as conditions for environmental degradation. Marine resource use is largely unregulated, and the predominant near-shore coral reef activities include subsistence and small-scale commercial fishing and tourism. The Fisheries Department estimates fisheries statistics for the Kenya coast, though a lack of resources for comprehensive monitoring of the catch makes the estimates unreliable. Marine fish catch rates have been estimated at various levels, from 3 to 13 tons/km2/yr, with estimated maximum sustainable yields for coral reefs varying between 5 and 10 tons/km2/yr. The number of subsistence fishermen is currently about 5,000, with close to 35,000 dependents and perhaps another 1,000 people involved in fish distribution and processing. Numbers are continually increasing, even though many reefs are overexploited and severely degraded, and degradation due to fishing is likely to increase in the near future. Of the 750,000 tourists visiting Kenya during a normal year, 70% spend at least some of their time in coastal hotels, and close to 200,000 stay in hotels adjacent to, or visit, Marine Protected areas. Tourism is one of the principal sources of income for the coastal economy. Both fisheries and tourism depend on coral reefs and the associated ecosystems (seagrasses, mangroves). Any loss of productivity, diversity or integrity of coral reefs could have severe consequences for coastal people and the economy. Kenya¬s coral reefs are divided between two main areas: the southern, almost-continuous fringing reef system from Malindi to Shimoni (a distance of approximately 200 km), and more broken up patch and fore reef slopes around the islands of the Bajuni Archipelago, from Lamu and northwards (a distance of approximately 100 km). In both areas, hard substrate patches with coral growth are interspersed between extensive seagrass and algal beds. Within these patches, coral cover is typically about 30%, with over 50 genera and up to 200 common species of coral recorded so far (Obura, unpublished data). Reef complexity and diversity is higher in the south and decreases northwards past Lamu due to increasing influence of the cold-water Somali current system. Fish abundance is typically 1,500-2,000 kg/hectare, though this varies greatly with back reef and fore reef location, the influence of sediment, and the intensity and type of fishing effort (Samoilys, 1988; McClanahan, 1994; 1998).

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