bird story agency
The Western Indian Ocean is an extraordinary hub of biodiversity, boasting marine life spanning thousands of species. Besides being home to 38% of the world's coral reef species, A 2010 census revealed a staggering 250,000 marine species, including mammals, sharks, and various fishes exist in the region.
However, this ecosystem, encompassing East African countries, Comoros, and Seychelles, faces severe biodiversity threats due to human overexploitation, habitat loss, and climate change.
Only 10% of the marine ecosystem in the region enjoys absolute protection, leaving much of both the oceanic and littoral region at risk. The Coastal Oceans Research and Development-Indian Ocean/East Africa estimates that in 50 years all coral reefs in the region face collapse - which would in turn see a collapse of the region's fisheries.
In response, a challenge to identify and recognise ocean-positive startups and social enterprises in the Western Indian Ocean region was launched in March, 2023. The challenge aligned with the Great Blue Wall Initiative - a Western Indian Ocean (WIO)-born, African-driven roadmap to achieve a nature-positive world by 2030 - and deliver benefits to people and nature.
Out of 24 entries, seven outstanding African companies were recognised for their game-changing efforts contributing to the sustainable use of ocean resources, according to the challenge's organisers.
Healthy Seaweed Co Ltd
This Tanzanian-based company champions nutrient-rich seaweed snacks, offering locally grown, additive-free seaweed products since 2020. Not only does it promote the seaweed industry, but it also empowers women by fostering equitable use of ocean resources.
Moreover, seaweed's ability to absorb carbon dioxide and sequester it in the ocean makes it a valuable blue carbon solution for climate change mitigation.
Dedicated to coral reef restoration, Reef Pulse uses long-term ambient sound recordings of reefs, analyzing the data with AI technology. This provides reef managers with essential health indicators, enabling them to anticipate and address coral reef restoration dynamics effectively.
Utilizing AI and remote aerial imagery, Whale Seeker detects, locates, and classifies whales. This innovative technology benefits maritime safety by helping ships avoid collisions with whales and supports governments in managing protected areas efficiently.
Making a significant impact through agroecology projects in Tanzania, Ghana, Namibia, and beyond, Seawater Solutions creates sustainable job opportunities by developing coastal wetlands, including mangroves and salt marshes.
Their conservation efforts go hand in hand with regenerative agriculture, and they collaborate with NGOs, the private sector, and national governments across multiple countries.
This company is revolutionizing Kenya's fishing industry with data-based solutions that enhance fish handling and implement an off-grid cold chain. This has created a traceable, sustainable sushi-grade seafood value chain that is now providing local fishers with increased value for their catches.
Hailing from South Africa, Soapbox is an advocacy firm employing behavioral design projects like "Captain Fanplastic" to combat pollution and inspire positive change through storytelling and gamification.
"Captain Fanplastic" is a primary school programme focused on raising environmental literacy among youngsters through experiential education integrating programmes such as pop-up storytelling events and gamified cleanups.
Pioneering zero-energy, chemical-free wastewater treatment systems using plant-based biotechnology. Omiflo's innovative solution incorporates phytoremediation and hydroponics principles to recycle wastewater, promoting sustainability and eco-friendliness without the need for costly infrastructure or energy.
Unlocking Economic Potential
Ibukun Adewumi, a blue economy researcher at the Sustainable Development Reform Hub, explained the vital value these companies hold in the realisation of ocean conservation and sustainable marine resource exploitation.
“Such startups could dramatically accelerate and upscale ocean conservation actions while enhancing socio-ecological resilience and the development of a regenerative blue economy,” he outlined.
The economic potential resulting from the regeneration of the Western Indian Ocean is immense. The World Economic Forum estimates over 70 million people directly reliant on these ecosystems.
bird story agency