Chumbe Island Coral Reef Sanctuary
Chumbe Island Coral Reef Sanctuary is Zanzibar's first marine protected area and it is home to rich, thriving coral reefs.
Chumbe Island is a small island off the coast of Zanzibar, Tanzania that is privately owned by Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd. (CHICOP), which manages the Chumbe Island Coral Reef Sanctuary. CHICOP was established in 1991 to create an ecotourism and conservation education initiative. Chumbe Island was chosen for a sanctuary due to its healthy and biodiverse coral reef system. Noted coral taxonomist Prof. J.E.N. Veron visited the reserve in 1997 and established that it has "one of the most spectacular 'coral gardens' to be found anywhere in the world" and that "the Park is exceptionally well managed".
Chumbe Island Coral Reef Sanctuary protects incredible marine biodiversity, including an array of invertebrates, 474 recorded reef fish species, blacktip reef sharks, and many other creatures. It is an important feeding ground for the endangered green turtle and critically endangered hawksbill turtle. Humpback dolphins, spinner dolphins and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins have all been observed in Chumbe Coral Reef Sanctuary as well.
The reefs in Chumbe Island Coral Reef Sanctuary are some of the most resilient known in the Western Indian Ocean. During previous recorded bleaching events, its corals have bleached and died at much lower levels than others. CHICOP managers attribute this resilience to “few other stressors being present” (i.e. no fishing or destructive activities taking place in the sanctuary).
Chumbe Island Coral Reef Sanctuary creates employment opportunities for local communities, and indigenous rights are integrated into its management. CHICOP’s management plan works to ensure Chumbe is “effectively and sustainably managed in order to maximize their contribution to biodiversity conservation, serve as a model for effective ecotourism and MPA management, and provide a platform to promote wider environmental awareness for sustainable development and ecological stewardship in Zanzibar.”
The Global Ocean Refuge System is a Marine Conservation Institute initiative working to build a global network of effective marine protected areas to save ocean wildlife. In 2018, the Global Ocean Refuge System grew to include 10 blue parks around the world.