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The Mascarene region
Turner, J.; Jago, C.; Daby, D.; Klaus, R. (2000). The Mascarene region, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 253-268
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more

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Document type: Review


Authors  Top 
  • Turner, J.
  • Jago, C.
  • Daby, D.
  • Klaus, R.

    The Mascarene Region in the southwest Indian Ocean consists of the deep Mascarene Basin, the banks and shoals of the Mascarene Plateau, the St Brandon archipelago, the volcanic islands of Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues, and the small oceanic islands of Agalega and Tromelin. Less than 10% of this 2x106km² area lies within 200 m depth contours, and while the Mascarene Plateau has no land mass, it is effectively a shelf sea and a meridional barrier presenting a significant obstacle to deep flow in the western Indian Ocean. Monsoon seasons bring northeasterly winds in December-February, and southeasterly winds in June-August, and the South Equatorial current flows west across the Mascarene Plateau. Tropical cyclones frequently cause severe damage. The banks and shoals are best developed around St. Brandon. The volcanic islands are of different ages; the older Rodrigues and Mauritius have fringing reefs with wide lagoons, while on Reunion corals grow on steep volcanic rock. Mangroves are comparatively rare but 20 km² occur on Mauritius. The offshore islands are important seabird and turtle nesting sites, but many islands within lagoons have degraded habitats. Major land clearance and decimation of fauna and flora followed soon after settlement in 1638. Sugar cane was planted, and fisheries in the region have been exploited since the 1830s. Mauritius has a population of 1.2 million and a booming economy, Reunion has 600,000 with a more constrained development, while Rodrigues (37,000) remains undeveloped and agricultural. Soil erosion and lagoonal sedimentation is significant in all of them. Offshore waters support industrial-scale tuna fishing, and in lagoons artisanal fishing is influenced by pollution, sedimentation, mangrove removal and wetland reclamation. Fishing is not well controlled. Coastal erosion, sand extraction, sugar milling and other light industries pollute the lagoons, and waste-water treatment is recognised as a high priority. Tourism is important, but the islands face a water shortage and need to protect aquatic systems. The Mascarene islands are committed to marine environmental protection, and several reserves have been declared. Management plans have been or are being developed, but despite protective measures, habitat degradation, pollution and over harvesting threaten the viability and productivity of the region. These priorities are recognised in many sectors, and are being addressed.

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