Examining stakeholder perceptions towards seagrass as blue carbon : an analysis of challenges & solutions to seagrass restoration in Wasini and Vanga, Kenya
Date of Award
Master of Science in Maritime Affairs
Oceans Sustainability, Governance & Management
Seagrasses has a significant role in the coastal environment due to the numerous ecosystem and socio-economic benefits they provide to humans and the marine environment. In Kenya, the degradation of seagrass continues to occur due to human and natural factors which affects the numerous benefits that seagrass provides as a blue carbon ecosystem. As habitat restoration continues to become a priority in recent times for many countries including Kenya, the research aims to understand stakeholder perception of seagrass as an ecosystem, investigate the challenges and also propose effective solutions to seagrass restoration.
In examining this blue carbon habitat, the important ecosystem services perceived were provision of spawning sites, shelter and foraging grounds for fish and carbon capture. The study also found challenges such as lack of funds and skills to restore, lack of community empowerment as well as destructive fishing practices. Additionally, solutions were explored on prevention of further seagrass loss such as collaboration, nature-based solutions and as well as strengthening enforcement mechanisms to effectively manage this critical ecosystem.
The study used a qualitative approach through semi-structured interviews to collect data. Participants were selected from government agencies, academia, non-governmental organizations and local community. A comparative analysis of two local communities of Wasini and Vanga was conducted to understand in detail the perceptions held, challenges encountered in seagrass restoration and conservation, with an overview from government, non-governmental organizations and academia.
As a result, the study discovered that stakeholder perceptions are important in supporting restoration, with the success of seagrass restoration programs dependent on stakeholder collaboration, clear policies, continuous capacity building and sustainable fishing practices. Ultimately, the study also found that conservation is better than restoration hence more effort should be directed at managing seagrass instead of restoration, which is costly with an undetermined rate of success.