Fellows in the News

Pascal Yaa is a small-scale octopus fisherman who has been fishing the coral reefs off Mombasa, Kenya since 1968. As a spear-fisher, Pascal swims the reefs daily with a mask and snorkel. Recently, he has been disturbed by what he is seeing. Increasingly, fishing nets and boats are damaging and killing large, old corals. From Pascal’s perspective, reef protection and restoration are critical to ensure long-term, sustainable fishing. In his own words, Pascal says, “Corals are the homes of fish and other animals like the octopus. Sometimes fishermen with nets will kill an entire coral to get a single fish. This means fish cannot come back, because their home is gone. I have seen a lot of change in the reefs in Mombasa in my lifetime, mainly loss of corals through damage, but also from too many sea urchins (which cause bioerosion) because the sea urchin predators are gone. And, a dead coral is not the same as a live one. When a coral dies, the fish and octopus do not stay there, even though the structure may remain for some time. Only live corals provide the habitat needed for the animals that fishermen rely on for income.”

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