WIOMSA Marine Litter Monitoring Project
Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association
Litter found in waterways, along the coast, and in the ocean has widely cited ecological, economic and social repercussions.
In the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region, major African cities and towns are already producing large amounts of litter that eventually ends up in the ocean. This amount of litter is only expected to increase as Africa’s population continues to grow.
To combat the litter crisis, many African countries have signed international treaties regarding the regulation and reduction of marine litter. However, in order to achieve these goals, we need to first determine the current amount and types of litter flowing down rivers and washing up on shores in WIO countries.
This information is currently lacking in most of the countries in the WIO region. Marine litter monitoring initiatives are therefore needed to make important management decisions in WIO countries as we try to lower the amount of litter in the region. The effectiveness of such interventions can then be tested by long-term monitoring of marine litter.
To enable the countries of the Western Indian Ocean to become leaders in litter management, the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) is partnering with Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) through its African Marine Waste Network (AMWN) project to initiate an observation and monitoring programme for marine litter in Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa and Tanzania. This programme is scheduled to run from 2019-2021 and focuses on developing monitoring programmes mainly for land-based sources of litter.
African Marine Litter Monitoring Manual
The Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) and Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) introduce the African Marine Litter Monitoring Manual: a guide to monitoring litter from source to sea. This manual is the result of a joint effort by WIOMSA, which initiated the Western Indian Ocean Litter Monitoring Programme, and the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN), a programme of SST.
Sustainable Seas Trust coordinated the development of the manual, working with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), Kenya; CETAMADA (association for the protection of marine mammals and their habitats), Madagascar; University of Mauritius, Mauritius; Universidade Lúrio & Fisheries Research Institute (IIP), Mozambique; The Ocean Project Seychelles, Seychelles; and Nipe Fagio, Tanzania. The manual also benefited from the contributions of Prof Peter Ryan from the University of Cape Town.
The African Marine Litter Monitoring Manual is written for any interested party, regardless of resources or level of scientific training. It addresses key issues of plastic and other waste accumulating in cities and towns, moving down the catchments into waterways and then polluting rivers, estuaries, beaches and the seas. Measuring is the first step in knowing the extent of problems, to developing strategies to better manage the issues and to evaluate the success of remedial interventions.
The methods given in the manual are continually being improved as experience and new knowledge guide its evolution. Given the more general needs of Africa with respect to management of plastic litter and other waste, this manual is already a valuable guide to other coastal nations of Africa.