SOLSTICE


Sustainable Oceans, Livelihoods and food Security Through Increased Capacity in Ecosystem research in the Western Indian Ocean (SOLSTICE)

SOLSTICE-WIO is a four-year project funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The project addresses three sustainable development challenges facing developing countries:
Secure and resilient food systems
Resilience and action on short-term environmental shocks and long-term environmental change
Reduction in poverty and inequality

Understanding and managing WIO fisheries and the impacts of changes on its people requires that WIO states have a mature capacity to implement the ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAF). Critical roadblocks to achieving this include relatively low levels of scientific capacity, inadequate monitoring programmes, and a poor integration of basic science into fisheries policies and management practices. SOLSTICE-WIO will work with the key academic, NGO, industrial and governmental stakeholders in the WIO region to achieve the step change required to enable WIO communities to apply an EAF.

SOLSTICE will help WIO communities unlock their potential and apply three key low cost technologies (numerical models, satellites and autonomous robotic technologies), which can cheaply and efficiently deliver near real-time environmental data. The project will develop the WIO capability to access, control, use and interpret the data from these platforms, thereby achieving a step change in the local ability to manage and optimally exploit local fisheries.

SOLSTICE-WIO will address each of these issues through:

1. Growing people-based marine research capability in WIO countries in a cost-effective way via state-of-the-art technology transfer, collaborative research and hands-on training;
2. Strengthening capacity of UK marine scientists to apply leading-edge technologies in developing countries;
3. Improving the ability of WIO scientists to effectively transfer scientific data into WIO policy processes at national and regional levels; and
4. Offering ongoing support via building lasting strategic research partnerships between UK marine science, regional centres of excellence, NGOs and government agencies in the WIO.

 Project site

Project implementation status is highlighted in the four SOLSTICE work packages (WP)

WP 1: Marine Robotics and Fieldwork WP2: Socio-economic studiesWP3: Science to policyWP4: Capacity Development

Pemba Channel Benthic survey

Key activities conducted in WP1 were shallow and mesophotic surveys conducted in collaboration with National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and Institute of Marine Sciences, Zanzibar (IMS). Three research expeditions were conducted from July to November 2019, deploying different techniques with different capabilities.

The first expedition involved the deployment of an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) at Misali and Mkoani areas of Pemba Island, and Tumbautu Shoals in the Zanzibar Channel. The main objective was to produce seabed maps to help inform a variety of marine spatial planning issues in fisheries, conservation, coastal and offshore development. We used the AUV’s geoswath mapping sonar and seabed mapping camera. The surveys covered a total distance of 74.6 km, taking 13.1 hours spread over three days. The mission revealed complex seafloor features that included pockmarks, healthy corals at the shallow areas and a diverse mesophotic reef at the base of a wall.

The second expedition comprised transect-based underwater visual census counts of coral, other benthic fauna and flora and reef associated fish populations via SCUBA. A total of 23 dives at 11 sites were conducted. Preliminary observations showed sites were in various states, some degraded and with fish populations depleted. A number of reef areas were in a healthy state with abundant coral and the complex structure including overhangs and ledges, such as Misali reef, Njao Coral gardens and Fundo Coral gardens. A blog about the diving expedition can be found here.

The third expedition used Baited Remote Underwater Videos (BRUVs) to sample reef associated fish populations to ~45m depth. Each sampling involved a series of 5 drops of the camera, spaced approximately 500 m apart. A total of 81 BRUV drops were deployed at depths between 5.8 m to 47 m. A preliminary sample of the video footage shows presence of vulnerable marine taxa, such as black saddle grouper and whip eagle ray. Details about the BRUVs expedition can be found here.

All the surveys will contribute data to the SOLSTICE-WIO project by providing an assessment of the state of shallow and mesophotic reefs on the eastern side of the Pemba Channel. The data will also add to the Tanzania Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) database and is building on a body of work by regional scientists on the status of coral reefs in the western Indian Ocean.

The next steps involve data processing, analysis and interpretation of the results, and developing management recommendations. This will be documented in a survey report and a Special Issue publication of the journal of Ocean and Coastal Management.

Multi-species fish modelling

CORDIO through Kennedy and Melita have had initial contact with Sevrine Sailley from PML on possible use of underwater visual census (UVC) data on coral reef fish abundance and biomass data collected on other projects. The data spans 2009-2015 across the WIO, but in Tanzania, it is from Zanzibar, Mafia Island and Mnazi Bay, with some from Kisite in Kenya just north of Tanga. The data is considered relevant in multi-species modelling.

CORDIO contributed its expertise on the selection of coral reef and pelagic species for multi-species modelling. Led by PML, the team plans to undertake climate projections on the selected species to the end of the century.

Small pelagic fishery of the Pemba Channel

CORDIO contributed ecological and fisheries expertise on small pelagic fish and a paper was published in Oceans and Coastal Management. The study was led by
Baraka Sekadende from Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI) and co-authors from SOLSTICE-WIO including Melita Samoilys.

The publication on the contribution of the high seas to national and territorial living resources led by Dr. Katya Popova included Melita Samoilys and David Obura as co-authors. Based on a workshop held in Seychelles in April 2018, SOLSTICE partners collaborated in writing the paper, which is intended to contribute to policy discussions on high seas governance in the context of their importance for people and economies, and particularly in developing country Exclusive Economic Zones.

The paper is in the Marine Policy journal, and further details are available in the blog post here.

Exchange visits

To reach a more general audience National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and partners have co-produced a MOOC showing how scientific research can provide decision support for sustainable fisheries, poverty alleviation and climate change adaptation. CORDIO contributed to content development of the MOOC titled “Ocean Science in Action: Addressing marine ecosystems and food security in the Western Indian Ocean.” The course is available via FutureLearn and will start on 5th October 2020. Course enrolment is now open more details are available here.

Exchange visits are an effective tool to foster learning and encourage networking between Organisations. CORDIO identified Kennedy Osuka to take part in two exchange visits in April and September 2018, at NOC in Southampton. The visits aimed at maximising fieldwork preparation through in-situ data collection training on sidescan and multibeam sonar, data processing and analysis. It is anticipated that the skills gained will be applied in benthic field surveys in July 2019. Kennedy was pleased to work with Dr Brian Bett and Dr Tim Le Bas from NOC’s Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems (OBE) and Marine Geoscience (MG) respectively – who provided guidance in carrying out robotic sampling of benthic habitats. He also used the visit to share the spatial and video data collected in Tanga area by CORDIO, using baited remote underwater video system (BRUVs).

At the end of the visits, Kennedy was able to learn the use of data processing tools in an integrated manner including image-processing software: CARIS HIPS, Image Pro Analyzer and Arc GIS. Interaction with scientists at NOC also provided a context within which to fill in the gaps of his Special Issue study and interpretation of benthic data. The networks in SOLSTICE project are considered fundamental in stimulating sharing of skills between and within WIO and UK scientists.

NOC training – GIS and remote sensing course in Zanzibar

In September 2018, SOLSTICE-WIO organised a two-week training workshop on Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) in Zanzibar. The course targeted a total of 31 participants from five WIO countries (Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Comoros and Madagascar).

CORDIO through James Mbugua contributed actively in the course by preparing relevant course content and material as well as actual delivery of GIS and RS lectures. Consolidated outputs from this training will go a long way in ensuring project sustainability in the WIO region by providing the necessary future momentum, synergy and efficiency.

Involvement in the course training also provided an opportunity for further interaction with high-level scientists who had compelling inspiration for all participants. It was a perfect opportunity for establishing useful career contacts and networks that will go a long way in stimulating innovation and cultural changes in the management of natural resources.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

To reach a more general audience National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and partners have co-produced a MOOC showing how scientific research can provide decision support for sustainable fisheries, poverty alleviation and climate change adaptation. CORDIO contributed to content development of the MOOC titled “Ocean Science in Action: Addressing marine ecosystems and food security in the Western Indian Ocean.” The course is available via FutureLearn and will start on 5th October 2020. Course enrolment is now open more details are available here.