The project was for a period of three years starting in 2003 and ending in 2005. A budget of MUR 700,000 was allotted to Mauritius for the year 2003 under the project by the COI. The Albion Fisheries Research Centre (AFRC) of the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries was the Focal Point for Mauritius and the Ministry of Environment & National Development Unit was the coordinating Ministry. The project had different activities which were implemented by AFRC. The responsibility of the Focal Point was to centralise, treat and diffuse data collected by the Coral Reef Monitoring Network and to train members in coral reef monitoring. The Coordinating Ministry was responsible for the coordination of activities of the network, organising meetings etc.
Monitoring of coral reefs proper
Coral reefs at selected sites around Mauritius were monitored in the shore-reef, back-reef and fore-reef stations by the Albion Fisheries Research Centre.
Activities included collection of data of selected sites (AIMS Line Intercept Transect methodology), input and compilation of data on ARMDES or COREMO software, analysis of data and production of national technical and scientific reports and papers. Data collected by other members of the network were also centralised, treated and regular reports prepared including the annual report to the Regional Coral Reef Monitoring Network.
Training to NGO's and interested institutions with respect to basic monitoring and analytical skills was carried out. Training also was given to officers of the Fisheries Division in Rodrigues and the Rodrigues Underwater Group for monitoring works.
Funds under the project were provided for training to build up basic skills as well as upgrading of the diving skills of officers of AFRC with respect to safety and capacity building; Seventeen officers from AFRC (Marine Science Division), one from the Ministry of Environment & NDU and two from the Mauritius Oceanographic Institute (MOI) benefited from this training.
Funds were allocated for preparation, design and printing of pamphlets for sensitisation and awareness on importance of corals for distribution to schools, colleges and the general public. A pamphlet on the importance of coral reefs was prepared and is being distributed to the public.
Complete sets of data from all monitoring sites were acquired. These were processed and analysed for the National Report of the network, which in turn was fed into the Regional Coral Reef Monitoring Network (RCRMN). Ultimately, the Regional Network report was incorporated into the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN). A certain number of officers and members of NGO's wwas be trained. Public awareness enhanced.
CORAL BLEACHING EVENTS
The reefs in Mauritius suffered a sporadic coral bleaching event in 2003 after the global coral bleaching event of 1998. Coral bleaching has been observed in the lagoonal patch reefs, reef flats and reef slopes from February 2003. Surveys were carried out on coral bleaching at four sites viz: Ile aux Benitiers, Belle Mare, Poudre d'Or and Albion and the percentage of completely bleached corals at these sites were 56, 11, 22 and 2 while that of partially bleached corals were 8, 27, 17 and 16% respectively. Branching and tabular corals were mostly affected in the back reef while massive corals were affected in the fore reef.
In 2004, coral bleaching was observed in Mauritius and surveys were carried out at the Belle Mare site. Most of the corals (branching and tabular) which were completely bleached in March 2004 recuperated by July 2004, when the sea surface temperature (sst) decreased.