CORDIO’s main area of focus is the Western Indian Ocean, which consists of 10 countries Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Comoros, Reunion, Mozambique, Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius and South Africa. CORDIO often contributes to work which has a regional focus, as well as projects which target a particular sub-region e.g. Northern Mozambique Channel. Regional frameworks, entities and projects such as the UN Nairobi Convention, WIOMSA and Indian Ocean Commission Biodiversity Project help facilitate these regional activities.

Coral bleaching2017 GCRMN WIO coral reef status reportResearch on sharks and raysNMCiWestern Indian Ocean Economy ReportMOZALINKSupporting MSP in the WIO

In 2017, CORDIO gathered a total of 45 bleaching observations from across the region during the regional summer (January – May), mainly through our online form. CORDIO also developed 4 bleaching alerts, which were sent out to partners across the region to keep them updated on the latest climatic and bleaching developments.

Post-bleaching assessment

In 2016, record-high sea temperatures during the summer led to extensive coral bleaching throughout the Western Indian Ocean.
The Indian Ocean Commission’s Biodiversity Project funded by the EU contracted CORDIO to undertake a post-bleaching assessment to quantitatively evaluate the impact of the 2016 bleaching on the WIO. The project began in June 2017 and is scheduled to conclude in March 2018. The project was supported by members of the regional Coral Reef Task Force established under the Nairobi Convention. 

Activities and Outputs

    • As part of the regional post-bleaching project CORDIO coordinated coral reef monitoring in 4 countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Comoros in September 2017
    • A training webinar was held on the 21 July 2017 on the TNC Reef Resilience Network to announce the project and provide guidelines on monitoring
    • Collated ecological monitoring data from various organizations and researchers to update the WIO GCRMN datasets
    • At the 10th WIOMSA Scientific Symposium, held a special-session a meeting of the regional coral reef network to discuss the post-bleaching assessment and present preliminary results
    • Produced draft national chapters for Kenya, South Africa, Comoros, Tanzania and Madagascar, as well as a regional synthesis

The publication of the 2017 GCRMN coral reef status report for the Western Indian Ocean (link to pdf) was a major highlight of 2017 as it was the first GCRMN coral status report for the region. The production of the report began in 2015, and was funded by the EU through the Indian Ocean Commission’s Biodiversity Project. 

The report tacks the trends in coral reef health over a number of years between 2 major bleaching events (1998 and 2016) through fish, coral and algae indicators. It includes chapters from 9 countries in the WIO, as well as a regional synthesis. The process involved the collection, management and harmonization of data into regional datasets for fish and benthos. The analysis and report writing work was led and coordinated by CORDIO,  with national coordinators from the regional Coral Reef Task Force (CRTF) leading the national chapter writing.

The report was officially launched in December 2017 at the 32nd International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) General Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

Sharks and rays play a critical function as apex predators in maintaining ecosystem balance, and are therefore a priority for conservation. But due to over-fishing and targeted exploitation for their lucrative fins, several shark and ray species have experienced substantial declines in their populations globally and are now endangered. Information is scarce on the status of these animals in the Western Indian Ocean, creating an important need for research to fill this gap.

Survey on Shark and Ray populations and habitats viability analysis project

CORDIO sort to implement a 9-month project starting December 2017, funded by the IOC-biodiversity program to address issues highlighted across the Nairobi Convention member states, and recommended necessary actions to be taken including:
1. Critical need for reduction of fishing pressure, fishery-related mortality and bycatch of chondrichthyan species.
2. Need to raise awareness of the poor conservation status of chondrichthyan species in the WIO and generally a poor understanding of their important ecological role among fishers, governments and other stakeholders.
3. Need to assess the catches of chondrichthyans in the different fisheries in the WIO, to identify trends in the status of the resources, and in resource use.
4. Need for improved legislation and guiding policy, at regional and national levels. only four of these states have developed national plans of action (Seychelles, South Africa, Mauritius and Madagascar; Kenya is in the process) for shark and ray conservation and management
5. Need to identify those species whose populations within the WIO require stricter management or warrant full protection since a high proportion (24%) of WIO chondrichthyans are classified as threatened on the IUCN Red List; however, few of these species are protected under national or international legislation or conventions.

FinPrint Project

In 2017, CORDIO coordinated and led training and sampling of reef sharks on the rocky and fringing reefs of three Eastern Africa countries; Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya. This involved the assemblage of Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUVs) equipment on land and deployment at sea (the field), followed by retrieval of the equipment, extraction and storage of data collected during the surveys in the region. The surveys, funded by the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) under the Global FinPrint project, aimed to assess coral reef Sharks and Rays populations to understand their relationship to the vanishing ecosystems and inform emerging conservation actions. Media: Image of BRUV equipment

Lying between northwest Madagascar, northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania, enclosing the islands of the Comoros Archipelago, and remote islands strung along the center of the channel is the Northern Mozambique Channel capped by the Aldabra island group to the north. The region is home to ten million people and six countries (Comoros, France, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania) and is a treasure trove of natural riches, both living and mineral.

With social economic indicators projected to increase significantly, there has been a growing need to manage the foreseen changes effectively.

As part of regional engagement, CORDIO continued working with governments, communities and NGOs throughout 2017 by playing a key role in building momentum for political, institutional and financial support in support for integrated solutions of securing sustainable futures for communities within the NMC region and beyond.

Among the leading roles and outputs for the NMCi under CORDIO stewardship include:

The report follows an approach established in a global report published by WWF in 2015, and a similar analysis for Melanesia – both available from here.

The report found the ocean assets of the Western Indian Ocean region are valued at US$333.8 billion, and annual output at US$ 20.8 billion – 4th in line after the 3 largest economies of the region.

Between October 2014-Sept-2017, CORDIO was involved in the implementation of key activities under the MOZALINK project that sought to build regional capacities by linking marine science, traditional knowledge and cultural perceptions of the sea in the Mozambique Channel to build tomorrow’s marine management using spatial simulation tools and educational games

Working under the stewardship of Dr. David Obura, CORDIO CORDIO contributed and delivered on three main outputs i.e.:

i) connectivity modelling and a new study focusing on the East African Coast,

ii) An online platform for public sharing of data in the form of a GeoNode instance at

iii) A number of scenarios, with relevance to the region that make invoke MSP in the region


-Estimating connectivity through larval dispersal in the Western Indian Ocean-Ocean Gamoyo et al. (in review)
-Anticipating future changes in larval dispersal and bleaching incidences in the Western Indian Ocean Gamoyo et al. (thesis chapter draft)


Emanating from several initiatives and the growing interest in Marine Spatial Planning in the Western Indian Ocean region,  CORDIO developed a geoportal dubbed Marine Spatial Atlas for the Western Indian Ocean (MASPAWIO) in 2015 to support the public process of analysing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of biodiversity and human activities in the region.

This portal /spatial atlas focuses on non-formal marine and coastal research and ocean data outputs, MASPAWIO has been an entry point for the informal marine spatial data (data from researchers, NGOs and implementation projects) to find its way into the more recognized portals such as the African Marine Atlas supported by UNESCO, the Nairobi Convention Clearing House Mechanism thereby demystifying the barriers of contributing spatial data to such portals.

With the implementation of various projects, notably the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) funded project on Mobilizing Marine Biodiversity data, MASPAWIO was developed further and customized to integrate BRAHMS a biodiversity database for use with marine ecological data. This was a further diversification of the platform as a key resource of supporting MSP in the WIO and the Horn of Africa (IGAD region).

With support from various project, the content and utility of MASPAWIO is projected to grow into a regional gateway of content, services data and applications that provides coastal and marine spatial information about indicators of drivers and pressures in the WIO region. Outputs will be linked to public and institutional online portals (such as the Ocean Biogeographic Information System) to provide an active link between ongoing research and accessible resources to support management and sustainability of WIO resources.