Marine and coastal

Community-based aquaculture development and marine protection

Published: 26 April 2016
Last edited: 18 August 2017
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This solution addresses poverty reduction in Zanzibar for its coastal communities through a more sustainable management of their natural resources, additional income, and consequently, better quality of life. The approach of ecological aqua farming of bath sponges promotes healthy economic growth; reduces environmental pressure and threats to marine life and further natural wildlife, public health and the advancement of women.


East and South Africa
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Open sea
Protected area governance
Protected area management planning
Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
Sustainable livelihoods
Scale of implementation
Aichi targets
Sustainable development goals
Other targets
SDGs, JPol, NEP & EMA Tanzania


Jambiani, Mtende, Zanzibar, Tanzania


High unemployment, marine resources not managed sustainably, coral reefs under pressure, gender inequality. To reduce poverty and to create jobs we developed 2009 sustainable sponge farming and started 2014 with a coral farming trial in Zanzibar.
To protect corals from anchor damages we install mooring buoys on frequent visited sites. We raise awareness by building artificial reefs, installing locally managed no fishing zones and Octopus management systems thereby the locals learn to manage their marine resources sustainably. Women get the same salaries for the same jobs as men. They learn to speak openly and bring in their opinions in meetings. They learn to swim and do other things that normally only men do. As well they get a lot of self-confidence through the success of their work and get a higher status in the community. e.g. because they can build their own house instead of being forced to live with their parents.


Focus on single mothers since they have nearly no job opportunities. After training beneficiaries become independent and start their own business. From their product sale they get a good income to feed their families and build their own house.

How do the building blocks interact?

Continuity and Full Sustainability are dependent on each other. Only through a continuous pursuit of environmental, economic, and social goals sustainable development full sustainability can be attained. Each change and each planning of a future step requires a new check of the 3BL sustainability and corresponding adjustment.


• Women of Jambiani learned how to farm sustainably bath sponges and how they can sell them locally. After one year training they get independency. • An artificial reef (AR) with reef balls was built with the fishermen committee of Kibigija to learn more about the importance of reefs and biodiversity. Our coral farmers learned to cultivate corals and plant them on the AR. • The pilot project mooring & buoys in Jambiani & Paje proved that anchor damages can be reduced and corals get protection and more respect. 2016 we will install 40 more buoys in Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia.


In 2007 we build our resident home in Zanzibar. Impressed by the seaweed farmers we discovered there very bad income from the product and thought there must be better marine products that guarantee a better income and quality of live for the coastal community. We did a research trip in Asia and the Pacific region and found in Micronesia the organization MERIP. They cultivated sponges, corals and invertebrates together with the community and without a lot of money. Back in Zanzibar we started 2009 our first sponge farm. We had to do a lot of research to find a sponge species that can be used and sold as a bath sponge. The common bath sponges species we could not find in the waters of Zanzibar. After testing more than 120 different species we found a nice intertidal sponge that can be cultivated sustainably because we can take fragments of the sponges in the productive farms as seeds. We had to invest a lot of time to figure out best farming methods. Today we have 3 productive farms and can open 1-2 new farms a year. The slow scaling of the business model has its reason that the number of seeds is limited if you want to bee sustainable. Because our aim is to create jobs we started 2014 coral farming for the aquarium trade that allow much faster scaling and so has the potential to create faster more jobs in the future than sponge farming. Without healthy water aquaculture has no future. To save the created jobs in the long term the coastal communities of Zanzibar have to learn more about the sea, the importance of corals, sea grass, mangroves and the biodiversity to manage their natural marine resources themselves sustainable. That’s why we have different marine protection and educational projects.

Contributed by

Christian Vaterlaus

Mohamed Mrisho