Tanzania coral reef task force is working

Ms. Rose Sallema Mtui, Head of Research Coordination Department and Tanzania Coral Reef Task Force Coordinator, National Environment Management Council (NEMC)

Ms. Rose Sallema Mtui, Head of Research Coordination Department and Tanzania Coral Reef Task Force Coordinator, National Environment Management Council (NEMC)

Biodiversity: a brief historic of the national coral reef task force?

Ms. Rose Sallema Mtui: The Tanzania Coral Reef Task Force (TzCRTF) was formulated after the regional, Western Indian Ocean Coral Reef Task Force (WIO CRTF) which was established in 2002 and endorsed as per decision of the Conference of Parties (CoP 3/2) on the protection of coral reefs and associated ecosystems of the Nairobi Convention, held in Tananarive, Madagascar in 2004. Countries of the Eastern and Southern African Region including Kenya, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Island States of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion, and Seychelles are signatories to the Convention.

The regional Coral Reef Task Force (CRTF) was established as an advisory facility for all issues pertaining to coral reef research, monitoring, conservation and management. It is in this regard that the National coral reef task forces were established thereafter but with similar national responsibilities. The TzCRTF is therefore in line with the commitments under this convention; in Tanzania, it was composed in 2005 by the Nairobi Convention Focal Point, by then NEMC Director General. At that time, the task force was supported by a SIDA SAREC project, Coral Reef Targeted Research (CRTR). After the phasing out of the project in 2009, the task force was mainstreamed to the Government Institution which is the National Environment Management Council (NEMC).

For the TzCRTF to optimally serve its purpose, a secretariat was established at NEMC which carters for national needs and therefore assumes administrative role. The Director General of the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) is also the chairperson of the coral reef task force. The Vice President Office (VPO) handles all issues of capacity building since it is the focal point of all international conventions including the Nairobi Convention and technical issues are handled by the Institute of Marine Science (IMS) of the University of Dar es Salaam.

Biodiversity: who are the TzCRTF members?

Ms. Rose Sallema Mtui: Currently the task force has about 31 members and invited members who represent Government and non-government bodies concerned with sound management of coastal and marine resources in Tanzania. Anybody, any institution can join the task force as long as they really demonstrate that they are willing.

“Any institution, anybody can join the task force as long as they really demonstrate that they are willing”

Biodiversity: what are the key activities of the national coral reef task force?

Ms. Rose Sallema Mtui: TzCRTF acts as national facility to coordinate issues around coral reef research, coral reef information sharing and coral reef management. It establishes communication network over the rest of institutions and people interested, to facilitate data and information gathering and dissemination. We develop a database for all past and present activities involving research, conservation, monitoring… We collaborate with other integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) programmes.

The task force informs the members whenever we meet. We organize meetings at least twice a year and report to the task force team to inform progress or to present something that members need to be aware. For example, we led a very robust activity of awareness seminar on issues of blast fishing with the support of WWF funding. Three national-wide seminars including three zones (central (Dar es Salaam), southern (Mtwara) and northern zones (Tanga) were successfully held and a Code of good practice was developed. Blast/dynamite fishers when they are caught their cases end up disappearing. People don’t know the value of the coral reef, they think they can’t just put someone in jail because he killed a fish. It is okay if a human being was injured or killed but a fish!!!? Blast fishing causes tremendous damage to environment, people and their livelihood and therefore jeopardizing resources for the future generation.

“People don’t know the value of the coral reef, they think they can’t just put someone in jail because he killed a fish. It is okay if a human being was injured or killed but a fish!!!?”

Biodiversity: how is the partnership with the Indian Ocean Commission Biodiversity programme (IOC Biodiversity)?

Ms. Rose Sallema Mtui: Frankly speaking it was my first time I learned about the IOC Biodiversity programme was when I participated to the Regional working session in drafting the Regional Coral Reef Monitoring report in Zanzibar April 2016. This partnership is very good. The project brought together both regional and national experts to exchange ideas and knowledge on advances of coral reef research, monitoring and management. It is from this workshop that I managed to chat-down on the implementation of task force activities and manage to convince the IOC — Biodiversity programme Managers to plan a national Coral Reef Task force and Expert workshop to review the draft report. It really helped us to plan and meet as Task force members, this validation workshop. We didn’t have platform to meet between TzCRTF and Zanzibar coral reef monitoring network (which was set under the IOC ISLANDS project initiative in 2012) before. The Zanzibar coral reef monitoring network will complement the main TzCRTF, that’s another added-value of the IOC Biodiversity programme. Their data together with the national report data will contribute to the regional report. In the national workshop we shall also have chance to convince WWF to contribute some of their information to the national report which in the Zanzibar workshop was identified as a major gap.

Biodiversity: what are the next steps?

Ms. Rose Sallema Mtui: Mainstreaming the TzCRTF to a national institution like NEMC was part of sustainable plan. Currently Government budget is allocated but we can implement only a few activities and not very sustainable. We need enough resources to conduct robust research, monitoring, studies in the country. The problem is, for the two consecutive past years, the government didn’t allocate funds for TzCRTF activities. So next steps is to continue developing project proposal for funding task force activities and continue soliciting funds from international organisations. We need the coral reef task force to be better known and to show that this is working!