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Larval fish production and the dispersal capacity of this early life stage are major components that contribute to sustainable fish stocks and minimize the risk of fish collapse even under heavy fishery exploitation.

Our Goals and Objectives

The project aims to understand to what extent food-provisioning services in the form of fish larval production are threatened by habitat degradation and fragmentation, and how production of this natural resource is related to climate change and development in the coastal WIO region.

Specific objectives include

1) Identify habitat conditions critical for fish recruitment and key drivers for fish larvae production.

2) Identify dispersal potential of fish larvae from the seagrass habitats where adult fish spawn.

3) Use this information to predict future economic impacts and the most vulnerable coastal areas.

4) Provide scientific information that can lead to improved management and protection strategies in coastal East Africa.

The goal of this project is to initiate a novel research program that links Kenya, Tanzania and Swedish researchers to address the following questions:

  • How does coastal habitat health affect fish larval recruitment?
  • What is the socio-economic impact of a declining fish recruitment caused by habitat degradation?
  • How will fish recruitment potentially change over the next decades as an effect of increasing human activities and climate change?

These questions will be addressed in a collaborative effort by combining i) field surveys to relate fish larvae production to habitat health, ii) genetic tools to identify fish dispersal, and iii) modeling to estimate effects of habitat degradation for coastal fisheries production and economic impact. Additionally, the project intends to build human capacity in Tanzania and Kenya to conduct research through postgraduate training at M.Sc. and Ph.D. levels.