[Coral-List] Eritrea update 2005 2007 ECMIB

Virginie Tilot de Grissac v.tilot at wanadoo.fr
Sat Apr 26 12:42:31 EDT 2008

Update of the Eritrea Coastal Marine Island Biodiversity Project (funded by GEF, implemented by UNDP, anchored in the Ministry of Fisheries) by Dr Alain Jeudy de Grissac.


Summary of activities January 2005 - December 2007


In reference to the coral list discussion stating a lack of activities and in particular of knowledge on corals since the 90s, there has been a growing pressure by the present actors on myself, Alain Jeudy de Grissac, acting as TA for the ECMIB project during the period 2005-2007, to clarify the present state of the corals in Eritrea and report on biodiversity surveys, activities and research that have been achieved during this period. 


During these three years, none of the persons initially involved in the coral list discussions debating on the state of the corals in Eritrea, have had any contact with the project management or were involved in the project activities except Dr. Stefan Howe (one of the main assets of the project with in particular the training of more than 40 Eritrean nationals to marine and coastal ecology). The others were out of the country with no contact with the project and therefore no insight information on what was happening in Eritrea. 


Charlie Veron was invited for a survey and training mission, unfortunately able to join during the final stage of project (October November 2007), and the results are coming out only now. Thanks to Charlie, the fantastic results from the mission are now bringing some focus on the country and I hope some funding as there is an important need of support for this young country.


The project started in 1999 and due to different problems, has had three technical assistants, Dr. Peter Raines who has left after 11 months due to the conflict with Ethiopia, Dr. Jeremy Kemp for less than two years who has left in 2004 for personal reasons and myself from 2005 to 2007. A mid-term evaluation conducted end 2003 recommended to close the project but the Government of Eritrea asked for continuation.


For capacity building, from 2005 to 2007, the following scientists were involved in the project: Dr. Michael Pearson for ICAM, Dr. Andrew Price for general marine ecology, Dr. Virginie Tilot for coral reefs, Dr. Rebecca Klaus for GIS, Dr. Nicholas Pilcher for marine turtles, Khaled Allam for Protected Areas and Dr Charlie Veron for coral reefs. The total input of all these experts and some others was about 500 days over the three years. 


At my arrival in 2005, four UN volunteers were involved in the project and were progressively replaced by competent national. Selected national (53) were sent abroad for training during the same period corresponding to about 600 days. Most of them were participating in field missions and during the same period participated for about 4000 field days collecting biodiversity data on marine turtles, dugong, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, algae, birds and socio-economic data on the coastal villages. 


For the coral reefs, 96 stations have been studied of which 68 using reef check, 16 permanent stations by using video and photo transects, photo quadrats and 12 visited during the coral taxonomy mission. Information on the reef check data could be available from the coral reef team from the Ministry of Fisheries in Massawa as soon as data are analysed. More information on the training, exploratory missions and coral surveys by video and photo could also be obtained from Dr. Virginie Tilot (v.tilot at wanadoo.fr).


For coral reefs, before the visit of Charlie Veron, the existing records were of 154 species. The mission was organised in order to visit the northern Dahlak islands (Isratu, Dahret, Tanam, Enta´edell, Durghella), the southern Dahlak islands (Gulf of Zula, Dissei, Madote, Shumma) and Assab islands near Bab El Mandeb (Sanahor, Musa´af , Abeilat) where the waters are deeper and the coral cover can reach 100%. The records are now 220 species from 38 genera with 5 new species under description and perhaps one new genus. During a lecture in the capital Asmara for all national authorities with the attendance of the Ministries of Tourism and Fisheries, Dr. Veron presented the major results, including comments on the limited bleaching and on the resilience of Eritrean corals to high water temperature (during some dives in August, the water temperature reached 37.5 Celsius at 10m depth!). 


More information on all the activities of the project can be found on the project initiated website www.eritrearedsea.org and each national responsible expert can be contacted through the website. At my departure, the state of the coast of Eritrea was in the print house and the fina GEF evaluation will be soon on line as well as the final project report.


For people interested to visit Eritrea, please note that you will not be able to collect data in the Eritrean Red Sea waters, including on coral reefs, unless you have the authorisation of the Ministry of Fisheries.


Being involved in other programmes, I remain available for any information on Eritrea biodiversity and contacts with scientists participating in the project or for access to the country at the following Email: alainjeudyde at hotmail.com 


Dr. Alain Jeudy de Grissac  


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