Guest Blog – MoBeCo – Monitoring Beira’s Coast
MoBeCo – Monitoring Beira’s Coast
MoBeCo is the latest project to join the Rising from the Depths network partners, a consortium of coastal researchers and SMEs based in the UK, working for the first time in Mozambique. The project has great synergy with other projects in the network focused on coastal monitoring.
The MoBeCo project will attempt to use novel remote-sensing data collection techniques to increase the efficiency of dredging operations at Beira, Mozambique. Keeping the port of Beira navigable is a vital task for the continued growth of the Mozambican economy and the welfare of its citizens (1). Beira is a key export point, not only for Mozambican goods, but also exports from landlocked Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi (2). The current cost of maintenance dredging is high. This combined with the high siltation rate and unpredictable movement of sandbanks in the estuary has resulted in numerous, extremely expensive emergency-dredging operations (3). The situation is not helped by the partial sinking of the state-owned dredger vessel Macuti in 2016 (4), which is still under repair, resulting in expensive outsourcing of these dredging operations.
Beira is also extremely vulnerable to coastal hazards, highlighted by the devastation of cyclones Idai and Kenneth (5). Coastal managers in Beira require better situational awareness and access to up-to-date data so that they can design cost-effective coastal protection interventions. Hard engineering solutions such as seawalls and groynes are not cost-effective outside of the port area due to the increased pressure from rising relative sea levels and potential increased storm frequency. Therefore, managers must find more cost-effective measures such as beach nourishment and utilisation of native mangroves. Yet, unfortunately, these solutions are viewed less favourably by many authorities and local citizens who prefer the security and investment of hard engineering. A dedicated data dissemination and education campaign is required to encourage working with natural processes.
MoBeCo focuses on collecting local morphological and hydrodynamic data for coastal managers, academics and dredging authorities to use in the pursuit of more efficient management operations.
It is a 9 feasibility study funded by Innovate UK and led by Marlan Maritime Technologies (6) and the National Oceanography Centre (7). The consortium will be working with local partners INAHINA (Instituto Nacional de Hydrografia e Navigação, the government agency for safe navigation) and members of AMS – Associação Mar Sustentåvel (Sustainable Seas Association) based in Mozambique. Their aim is to monitor the channel near the port of Beira using a set of relocatable tide and met gauges and a marine radar monitoring system (https://vimeo.com/340389947). At the end of the feasibility phase, an application will be made for continuation of the funding for phase 2, which will run for a further two years (2021-2023) and see the initial project consortium expand to included local academics and dredging authorities.
Effective coastal monitoring systems can support response planning and mitigation to safeguard economic activity and improve plans to protect coastal communities, increasing their resilience. Consequently, this will serve to improve the lives of people living at the coast.
Dr Cai Bird, director of research at Marlan and project manager for MoBeCo had this to say about the project:“The ultimate goal of this ambitious project is to dramatically increase the sustainability of the port of Beira, and greatly increase the knowledge and resilience of the local community through improved monitoring and coastal management practice. We’re really excited to be working in East Africa for the first time, despite the challenges and travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic making the installation and operations more difficult. We have been delighted to not only meet a new group of talented Mozambican coastal managers and academics, but also to join the Rising from the Depths network. We view this as the first step towards introducing ubiquitous, cost-effective coastal monitoring systems to the most dynamic coastal environments in East Africa.”
Relocatable marine radar coastal monitoring system and an illustration of the different datasets it produces. The area of chart highlights the region of interest in Beira
Find out more about MoBeCo by following them on twitter.
Synoptic 4D from Marlan Maritime Technologies on Vimeo.