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Marine Park pollution

11 November 2013, 22:03 Bob Ndwiga

Nairobi - County governments sharing the Indian Ocean have been challenged to partner in stopping pollution of marine parks and ecosystems on the coast.

The governments should also join forces and market marine-based tourism investments to improve income for the citizens of the county's.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) senior warden Felix Mwangangi suggested that the County governments should launch concerted beach cleanup efforts and control the amount of waste reaching the Indian Ocean from the hinterland.

Mwangangi,who is in charge of the Malindi Marine Park told stakeholders during a forum at the Malindi Marine Park Community Centre that partnerships in participating and sharing the cost of conservation of marine parks were required.

The cost of conserving marine ecosystems, including parks in the Indian Ocean,attracted a huge number of local and international tourists and added foreign exchange to the economy. However, he did say that the costs were expensive.

He said that some of pollutants including polythen papers and chemicals which were illegally channeled into the waters of the Indian Ocean by unsuspecting culprits damaged coral rocks and gardens, which compromised the breeding of fish and other marine beings.

The warden urged Malindi residents to partner in launching beach cleanup campaigns to be partly sponsored by the KWS to ensure that the Malindi Marine Park, perhaps one of the best parks in the county did not suffer pollution and damage.

Noting that conservation was an expensive undertaking,Mwangangi said “Conservation is very expensive- once an area has been destroyed it would be very hard to return it to normal and that is why I am insisting that we should come together and protect the Malindi Marine Park."

Malindi boat owners and other stakeholders wanted to know whether there were ways under which they could reap better incomes from marine parks now being managed by the KWS.The warden clarified that the KWS had a system through which the communities operating business in the marine parks could be assisted to identify and start community marine parks.

The warden noted that expanded marketing of marine park based economic activities would increase opportunities for investments and incomes directly benefiting the citizens of coastal counties.

The chairman of the Malindi Boat Owners Association Twalib Abed suggested that the KWS start a partnership with marine ecosystem experts to launch an underwater cleanup project covering the Malindi coral reef and the Marine Park and reserves.Twalib warned that unlike in the past when the Malindi marine park and reserve coral gardens remained clean and attracting today, a large percentage was clogged with silt and the coral reef was also slowly dying.

He said that the huge amounts of silt from the Sabaki River delta and the past Tsunamis had led to huge deposition of debris in the Malindi Marine Park and that affected vicinity and also made the once shiny coral stones and eggs dull to the eyes of visitors.

Twalib reminded the KWS that sometimes back the organization partnered with volunteers and held a major under water clean which revealed that plastics and other fishing next waste materials clogged up the coral reefs and the gardens hence suffocating breeding.

“We have been concentrating more on the beach cleanup campaigns and we now need to start venturing into the underwater clean up efforts to ensure that our marine corals are not being killed by pollutants” said Mr. Twalib who said that heavy pollution continued to affect the amount of fish in the parks.

Other stakeholders appealed to the KWS to ensure that information warning members of the public and marine park patrons from throwing away plastics and other non biodegradable items carelessly into the beach should be made easily available.

The stakeholders also asked the KWS to launch a campaign to have marine environmental volunteer scouts patrolling the various beaches and to create awareness to keep the beach clean.

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