MPA (Marine Protected Area) preliminary study

This project was launched in July 2009 thanks to funds received from the Regional Programme for the Sustainable Management of the Coastal Zones of the Countries of the Indian Ocean (ReCoMAP), an initiative of the Indian Ocean Commission financed by the European Union.

The aim of this project was to conduct a study which can be used as a reference to identify zones that need to be protected in order to guarantee a sustainability of the marine and coastal resources and preserve the biodiversity of the region. The results of this study will be used as a tool to help make decisions in the setup of a Marine Proteced Area (MPA) in the south west region of the island. It will also help to best define the kind of reserve to be set up (categories as per definitions of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN) as well as the zones requiring protection in order to preserve the local biodiversity by focusing on the sustainable management of marine and coastal resources of Mauritius: cetaceans and reefs.

The final objectives of this project were:

  • Bring together the knowledge on marine and coastal resources of the south west coast of Mauritius
  • Contribute to the conservation and preservation of the local marine resources
  • Accompany sustainable development of eco tourism activities: dolphin/whale watching, snorkeling on coral reefs, handicraft, fishing, aquaculture, hotel developments
  • Support the Mauritian Government in its endeavour to preserve natural resources and the environment
  • Involve local players and users in the management of the coast
  • Raise awareness of the necessity to protect the marine environment for: local authorities, decision makers, the general public, tourists, hotels, tour operators, fishermen, schools, students, yachtmen. Due to this awareness programme, the players will be more involved in the management of the protected zone.

This project complements both the "Sustainable Management of the Dolphin Watching activities by awareness and education" project, launched in June 2006 and the "Sustainable Management of Marine Resources, Cetaceans-Reefs of Mauritius" project, ended in June 2010. This project was funded by UNDP-GEF SGP and the TOTAL Foundation for biodiversity and the sea.

To attain its objectives, the study focused on two main areas: a census on the marine biodiversity in the study area (reefs and lagoons located in the south west of the island) as well as a socio-economic study of the region.

The results of these two studies were analysed with GIS mapping software in order to create a distribution map of the biological, social and economic picture of the region.

The project ended in February 2011. The maps will be used for advising decision makers in the next step of setting up a MPA in this region of the island.