Marine Parks of Tanzania

Image - Marine Parks of Tanzania

Tanzania has recently taken seriously its conservation in Marine areas and hence Chumbe Island, one of the Islands in Zanzibar, was gazetted in 1997 as the only privately run Marine Park in the world.

Tanzania is renowned for its terrestrial wild life, in the well-managed National Parks, game and forest reserves. Names like Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Kilimanjaro and Selous are household names.

The Mafia Island Marine Park Boundary, Nature Reserves

The idea of establishing a marine park at Mafia Island began in the 1960s when recommendations were made for the protection of coastal areas and marine resources in Tanzania through the establishment of marine parks, reserves and sanctuaries.

These resulted in the declaration of eight small reserves along the Tanzanian coast under the Fisheries (Marine Reserves) Regulations of 1975, two of these are in what is now the Mafia Island marine Park (MIMP), namely Chole Bay and Kitutia Reef.

The marine park area at Mafia Island extends across some 822km2, more than 75% of it below the high water mark. The area hosts an outstanding mosaic of tropical marine habitats including coral reefs, sea grass beds, mangroves and inter-tidal flats. In addition a remnant block of threatened lowland coastal forest survives along the eastern seaboard of the island, roughly half of it within the marine park boundary. Two species of sea turtle use Mafia’s beaches as nesting grounds and the area has been recognized internationally as a critical site for biodiversity. Several sites of historic ruins lie within the marine park area, some dating back to the C 13th. Mafia Island’s separation from the mainland and its freedom from industrial development have ensured that its surrounding waters are some of the least contaminated in Tanzania. The marine park area has national importance as one of the few remaining reef complexes within Tanzania’s coastal waters in relatively intact condition.

Mafia Island is distinguished from terrestrial parks in Tanzania and indeed from other marine protected areas in the western Indian Ocean region, by the large number of people residing within the park boundary. Extrapolation of the most recent available census data from 1988 indicates that the number of residents may be as high as 18,000. Up to 50% of these people depend heavily on the exploitation of marine resources for their livelihoods. Another 10-15% has traditionally relied on extracting various resources from the sector of Mlola Forest lying within the park boundary. However in the past two decades both marine and forest resources have been in decline. The effects of dynamite fishing, uncontrolled coral mining, small-mesh beach-seine nets and shifting cultivation in the forest had made conservation measures an urgent priority by the time the park was established in 1995. Since then, the development of a small-scale but nonetheless economically important tourism community within the marine park has added further complexity to the prevailing socio-economic situation.

Specified Use Zones

  1. Ras Kisimani. The island of Ras Kisimani bounded by a line 1km from the highest high water mark and by the 200m inland line on the main Mafia Island.
  2. Mange Reef. Bounded by a line 1km outside the furthest point of coral reef growth.
  3. Tutia Reef. Bounded by a line 1km outside the furthest point of coral reef growth.
  4. Kinasi Pass-Miewe. Bounded by a line drawn from: in the east by the Michengani-Jina-Juani-Outer Reef nature reserve zone and in the west by a due south line from the western edge of the Michengani mangrove area to the line of coral biomes in a south-easterly line to the northern tip of Juani Island.
  5. Outer Reef. Extending from the eastern boundary of the Michengani-Jina-Juani-Outer Reef nature reserve to the eastern park boundary and extending north to the southern point of Forbes Bay.
  6. Mlola Coastal Forest. On the eastern side of the core zone, extending to the boundary of the outer reef specified use zone. The southern boundary extending to Michengani-Jina-Juani core zone. The western boundary to be approximately 200 metres from the boundary of the core zone. These boundaries have been described with provision for adjustment to avoid existing shambas and / or larger plantations.

Fungu Yasin Marine Reserve

All that area consisting of land and ocean waters centered at latitude 06 degree 36 minutes 00 seconds south and Longitude 39 degree 14 minutes 30 seconds East and extending to depth of 5 fathoms below the mean low tide mark from the center point described above.

Mbudya Island Marine Reserve

All that area consisting of land and ocean waters centered at Latitude 06 degrees 39 minutes 30 seconds South and Longitude 39 degree 15 minutes 00 seconds East and extending to the depth of 5 fathoms below the mean low tide mark from the center point described above.

Bongoyo Island Marine Reserve

All that area consisting of land and ocean waters centered at 06 degrees 43 minutes 12 seconds S 38 degrees 16 minutes 00 seconds E and extending to the depth of 5 fathoms below the mean low tide mark in all direction from the center point described above. It is an interesting site to dive and provides good photographic opportunities.

Maziwe Island Marine Reserve

It was declared as Marine Reserves in 1975 and it is currently managed collaboratively with Pangani District Council and Resident community

The Reserve is also part of the Fisheries Management Plan agreement with communities implemented under the Tanga Coastal Conservation and Management Programme.

It is a submerged island that at one time had forest cover extending for about 10km. The main island species found by then were huge trees like Casuarina cunninghamiana (Mivinje Bahari) Breonadia salicina (Mgwina), Cocos nucifera (coconut plantations) fruit trees and other shrubs including tall trees. It serves as a fishing camping to a number of fishermen from different areas as far as Mtwara, Mafia and Kilwa while others came from Zanzibar and Mombasa in Kenya on fishing activities.

The island was used by Pangani district residents as a place for ritual performance and that was the reason why livestock like goats and chicken used to be found in some parts of the island before it was submerged in 1978/79 to erosion resulted mainly from clearance of the island vegetation cover.

Contact Address

Marine Parks & Reserves,Tanzania
P.O.Box 7565
Dar Es Salaam
Tel: +255 (0)22 2 150 621 / 2 150 420
Fax: +255 (0)22 2 110 352

Olympio Street
Plot 950
Upanga West
Dar Es Salaam

Last Updated on Tuesday 8th December 2009