Third KMMN meeting
3rd of March 2016
The Kenya Marine Mammal Network met at Kenya Wildlife Service HQ Mombasa to plan our work towards dolphin and whale conservation and tourism. Exciting times with great new ideas from Kenya Wildlife Service, Mombasa, Malindi, Kisite and Watamu.
Relatively little is known about the marine mammal species around Kenya and some of these species have been in constant decline in the Western Indian Ocean, facing real threats such as by-catch in fishing gears, loss of habitat, overfishing and unregulated whale/dolphin-watching activities.
For these reasons, there is an urgent need to gain a more comprehensive population data set for these species. Introducing opportunistic sightings can be an effective and crucial resource to achieve this, through opportunistic species data collection from non-scientific vessels and individuals who regularly frequent the sea. This strategy has been undertaken in many countries throughout the world where either limited scientific research has taken place and/or to bolster data collection from a wider, often multinational area.
Our aim is to provide the first consistent data on occurrence and abundance of marine mammals along the Kenyan coast. This project will help to define areas of “High Importance” for marine mammals and improve our local understanding of these species on a broader temporal scale. At the same time, this data is extremely important for marine mammal conservation and management strategies in Kenya and can be used as a baseline for further studies.
The Kenya Marine Mammal Network project proponent GVI (Global Vision International) is a UK based conservation organization who conducts research on behalf of local partners worldwide. In Kenya, GVI has been working alongside Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) since 2006, studying the marine mammal populations around Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protected Area.
GVI is partnering with WMA (Watamu Marine Association) on the north coast who also works closely with KWS and who initiated a dolphin research project in 2010 in the Malindi/Watamu Marine Protected Area. WMA brings together a diverse membership of groups and organisations in Watamu to support projects that benefit the community, protect the marine environment and promote sustainable tourism.
KASA (Kenya Association of Sea Anglers) is the governing body for saltwater sports fishing in Kenya and a member of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), the world's governing body for sport fishing. KASA has been identified as a key partner, working with skippers, anglers and crews of sport fishing boats to record sightings and collect data on marine mammals in our waters.
This network has also been supported by Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute.