Centro de Desenvolvimento Sustentável das Zonas Costeiras


Rodrigues et al. (2000). Coral Reefs of Mozambique
Executive Summary
Mozambique possesses the third longest coastline along the western Indian Ocean, extending 2,700 km, much of which adjoins areas of coral reef. It can be divided into three regions:

  1. the northern coast extending 770 km from the Rovuma River in the north to Pebane in the south (17°20'S). This is essentially a coral coast with an almost continuous fringing reef;
  2. the central coast from Pebane to Bazaruto Island (21°10'S) spans approximately 950 km and is classified as a swamp coast, where coral formation is limited; and
  3. the southern coast stretching 850 km from Bazaruto Island southward to Ponta do Ouro (26°50'S). This region is characterized by high parabolic dunes, north-trending capes, barrier lakes and patchy, rocky reefs with scattered corals.

From the Quirimbas Archipelago in the north to the coastal stretch from Cabo de Santa Maria to Ponta do Ouro bordering South Africa, most existing studies on coral reefs have been conducted during the past five years. However, a few reef areas have been studied for much longer; the reefs of Inhaca and the Portugueses Islands are the best studied in Mozambique, with records dating back to 1935. Within this chapter, six areas of coral reefs are highlighted. The Quirimbas Archipelago possess extensive fringing reefs along the eastern shores of the islands, supporting over 50 genera of hard corals.

The Mozambique Island area supports several well-developed fringing and patch reefs. The islands forming the Primeiras and the Segundas Archipelago, have well-developed fringing reefs on their eastern sides, enclosing shallow lagoon areas. The reefs north of the islands are strongly structured by their exposure to the monsoon winds and are dominated by soft corals. Bazaruto Island supports extensive areas of patch reefs within which 30 coral genera have been recorded. Along the shores of Inhaca and Portugueses Islands, three small fringing reefs occur, with a combined length of about 3.5 km. Comprehensive studies of these reefs found 45 coral genera. In the far south of the country, studies on the reefs along the coastal stretch from Cabo de Santa Maria to Ponta do Ouro, identified 19 genera of hard corals and 10 genera of soft corals.

The extensive coral reefs along the Mozambican coastline provide a vital habitat for many commercially important, as well as, endangered species. However, only two coastal areas are currently under protected management: Bazaruto National Park and the Inhaca and Portugueses Islands Reserve. Bazaruto National Park is the only marine park in the country; it is managed by the National Directorate of Forestry and Wildlife. Although coral reefs are already under protection within this archipelago, the Master Plan proposes to increase the protected area to include additional coral reefs. This will prevent fishing and other destructive activities on these reefs. In Inhaca and Portugueses Islands Reserve, three special sub-reserves were established for the protection of coral reefs. Within Mozambique, the focus of attention on coral reefs is concentrated on the establishment of an effective management program. However, the country has a low capacity to gather the required information for its formulation. Thus, progress in establishing management initiatives based on coral reef studies are currently limited.