The Kuruwitu Conservation & Welfare Association (KCWA) is one of the Equator Prize Winners 2017. Here's why.
KCWA was set up in 2003 by members of the community who were concerned about the degradation of their seas. Over fishing, climate change and uncontrolled fish and coral collection by the aquarium trade needed to be addressed before the marine ecosystem was damaged beyond repair.
Elders who could remember how healthy and productive the sea had been decades ago felt it necessary to take action before it was too late. In 2005 they took the unprecedented step of setting aside a 30 hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA). This was the first coral based Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) in Kenya. 12 years on, the area has made a remarkable recovery.
With fishing prohibited within the MPA, fish have grown in abundance, size and diversity. The area has become a breeding ground, leading to an increase in fish outside the MPA. As such, fishermen see greater catches due to a spillover effect. At the same time, biodiversity has increased dramatically making Kuruwitu a destination for eco-tourism creating jobs for guides, boat captains and rangers.
KCWA is working with the local Beach Management Unit (BMU), the Kenyan State Department of Fisheries and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to develop a co-management plan that will cover a 800 hectare area of ocean off the Kenyan coast. Through this co-management plan, KCWA will work with local fishermen to promote the sustainable use of marine resources, to reduce post-harvest losses and improve fish marketing systems.
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