Beyond the reef: assessing societal impacts arising from coral reef restoration in Shimoni, south coast of Kenya
Coral reefs are crucial marine ecosystems, for their rich biodiversity. They support the wellbeing and livelihoods of coastal communities with ecosystem services and goods. Coral reefs are increasingly faced with threats from unsustainable fishing practices such as blast fishing as well as bleaching effects due to climate change. Coral reef restoration has become a popular marine conservation intervention used to restore degraded reef ecosystems and to accelerate their recovery to a healthy status. Reef restoration contributes to numerous socio-economic benefits to the local communities and other reef stakeholders. Unfortunately, restoration has mostly focused on ecological aspects, thus minimal focus on societal aspects or impacts. This makes it difficult to understand potential societal impact arising from reef restoration efforts. This study aspires to assess societal impacts arising from reef restoration efforts and how they are perceived by locals and other reef stakeholders in Shimoni. Shimoni is a fishing village situated in Kwale County, south coast of Kenya and is part of the larger Shimoni-Vanga seascape where Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park and Reserve is also located. Kisite is a major marine conservation area and a popular tourist's destination. The seascape extends southward from Shimoni to the Tanzanian border, and boasts of a relatively pristine and a biodiversity rich marine protected area with its potential productivity enhanced by the adjacent co-management areas.