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Marine Hope Spots

Marine reserves – areas where fishing, dredging, mining, and sometimes even boating are banned – are one of the best strategies for the recovery of our overstressed oceans. Scientific evidence shows that marine reserves, which oceanographer Sylvia Earle calls “hope spots,” allow crippled populations of fish and other marine life to recover in the absence of human pressures, mainly fishing. Although at least 61 countries – ranging from small islands to large nations – have set up more than 400 “no take” reserves, the reserves add up to less than 0.1 percent of the oceans. Most of these reserves originally were created small, as parts of existing national parks or to protect specific areas like breeding grounds against the ravages of overfishing. Conservationists are now pushing for bigger “hope spots” across the world.

United States

Only about 3 percent of US territorial waters – some 147,480 square miles – are protected as marine reserves, and 95 percent of that area is contained in a single reserve, the Papahāanaumokuākea Marine National Monument created by President George W. Bush in 2006. The extensive coral reefs found there are home to more than 7,000 marine species, one-quarter of which are found only in the Hawaiian Archipelago.

section of an image depicting a map of marine reserves Click this image to see a larger version of the map.

United Kingdom

The area along around Devon’s three-mile-long Lundy Island, a place known for its lobsters, was designated as the first marine reserve in the UK in 2003. From 2003 to 2007, scientists monitored lobsters inside the reserve and in surrounding fished areas and detected significant increases in size and number of lobsters in the reserve. The newly robust lobster population suggests that even a small reserve can have signficant benefits.

The Philippines

Now more than 20-years-old, the Apo and Sumilon marine reserves in the Philippines have provided an unparalleled, long-term understanding of biological changes in marine reserves. They have helped researchers prove that reserves can lead to increases in abundance and size of marine biomass, and can benefit adjacent fisheries. The two reserves have also provided economic benefits to local communities by increasing tourism.


In the 1990s, Kenya began to enforce rules that prohibited fishing in the Kisite Marine National Park, an area of coral reefs along its southern coast. Biologists studied biota at the reserve and also at Mtang’ata Collaborative Management Area, a marine protected area that allows restricted fishing, across the border in Tanzania. They found that while the latter provided some protection to fished stocks, the marine reserve had higher fish diversity and produced greater ecological benefits.


The country pioneered marine protection with the 1975 creation of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. In 2004, the Australian government strengthened the park’s protections by setting aside 33 percent of the park as a no-take marine reserve. In 2007, the country added another 87,260 square miles of its coastline to its collection of marine reserves.

Sources: IUCN, National Geographic, World Commission on Protected Areas, Yale 360


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Here is the latest on Kisite in Kenya

The Kisite Marine Park is currently witnessing a lot of commercial interests engineering control over the available resources.

Several private individuals are establishing lodges and resorts in an effort to tap into the heavy tourism in the area.

A 21.5-acre national marine park occupying some of the most prime land at the South Coast is up for sale in the international market in a deal which could lead to the loss of a public resource worth Ksh 1.4 billion.

Well connected politicians and businessmen, working in cahoots with corrupt networks in Nairobi, managed to secure titles to the land on which Kisite Marine Park sits during the Moi years. They have now manoeuvred to obtain approval to set up a ‘hospitality business’ on the Island with an advertisement posted online placing the value of the park at $16 million (about Sh1.4 billion)

The Saturday Nation has established that the land listed on the advertisement is public property which was gazetted as a national park through legal notice No. 216 of October 25, 1973. Determined cartels have ignored several caveats placed by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and are looking for buyers to buy the property.

The Kisite Island offers some of the most beautiful and pristine beach property in the country. Thousands of tourists visit the park annually to indulge in watersports such as diving, snorkeling and fishing. But if the cartels who have secured titles to the land have their way, the park could soon be private property.

The process through which a national park came to be allocated to individuals is a study in the runaway corruption and underhand deals which were the norm in the management of public land in the Moi years, a legacy that has ceased to end 10 years since the Kanu government left office.

The Kisite Marine Park covering an area of 23 kilometres squared was first registered as a national park in 1973. The boundaries were revised to cover 28 kilometres squared five years later and gazetted on May 10, 1978.

This status held until 1994 when former President Moi transferred 0.8 hectares of the land in Kisite to two private individuals — Ms Sophia Rahim and Ms Sophie Nzuguka Kilei. The Saturday Nation established that the global advertisement was placed by a Swiss national — Mr Alessandro Torriani — who owns Funzi keys, another resort at the Coast.
Mr Torriani denied any impropriety in the process of acquiring the land. He said the titles were issued regularly by the Commissioner of Lands. He also accused the wildlife agency of “crying foul” without good reason.

Contacted for comment, KWS deputy director, corporate service Tom Sipul advised potential buyers not to invest in the Island.

By Elijah Langat on Fri, May 31, 2013 at 12:56 am

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