The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), through the European Union (EU)-funded Biodiversity Programme, in collaboration with Albion Fisheries Research Center (AFRC), and CREOCEAN, an engineering company operating in marine environment, organized a training workshop on seagrass cartography from 9 to 12 July 2018 in Mauritius.
The training consisted of a four days training sessions with one-and-a-half-day theory sessions at Albion Fisheries Research Center, focusing on an introduction of Quantum GIS software and with the mapping distribution of seagrass along the area of Le Morne and La Gaulette. The field sessions consisted of in situ seagrass identification, hands-on practical training on the standard monitoring of seagrass beds.
This was an opportunity for the members of the National Coral Reef Network to exchange knowledge, to discuss on conservation strategies and reef management actions and challenges.
The training was a major step ahead for the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, and Shipping to come up with an Action Plan for monitoring and rehabilitation of seagrass area.
Marine seagrass beds are important ecosystems to fight against coastal erosion and to stabilize the sea floor. A lot of marine species (fishes, molluscs, shellfishes…) depend on seagrass to feed, to reproduce and to grow. Seagrass guarantees also stability of the reef environment and mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide.
In the era of climate change, particularly with the abnormal increase in sea surface temperature, frequent coral bleaching events, frequent floods and storm water combined with human impacts, it is essential, given the socio-economic importance of marine ecosystems, to formulate an appropriate protection and conservation management plan.
As Mauritius is among the most vulnerable countries, preserving the integrity of marine biodiversity, including coral reef monitoring, is paramount while promoting the sustainable use of marine resources and respecting socio-ecological values.
The Biodiversity Programme supported a similar training in Comoros from 18 to 22 June 2018.