Coral farming – a questionnaire based prospect for coastal inhabitants’ socioeconomic development in Mauritius
Mauritian coral reefs, like elsewhere in the world, are the ecosystem that provides the main source of sustenance to millions of people. However, the continued growth of the population in Mauritius and the growing consumption per capita have resulted in unsustainable exploitation of reef services, which, exacerbated by climate change and the growing tourism industry; altogether deteriorating the reefs to the verge of destruction. For reversing this process of reef decline, its proper management and conservation, it is vital to involve locals, including fishing communities (both genders) in active restoration acts. For analyzing socioeconomic trends and options for reef restoration, a multi-choice questionnaire was filled by 500 people from five coastal regions: Grand Baie, Albion, Flic-en-Flac, Belle-Mare and Blue Bay. Additionally, as reference, a site near a fish farm at Point-aux-Feuilles, where coral culturing has been attempted, was considered. The survey results indicated that people were aware of the anthropogenic threats to their marine environment and of active restoration as a tool for managing coral reefs decline. The results found that the majority of the coastal communities were willing to incorporate into a community-based coral restoration, targeting eco-business and coral rehabilitation across the Island. Additionally, we explored favorable sites for coral nurseries and found that a coral nursery next to a fish farm would be preferable due to the already existing aquaculture, available local community and excellent water conditions. Our conclusions call for direct involvement of local communities in eco-business and restoration projects as it reflects the Mauritian blue-economy rationale.
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