Intergovernmental oceanographic commission (of unesco) information on eastern african sea level

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(1st draft, November 1998)





António Mubango Hoguane


This work was made with the participation of Mr. J. Ruby and Mr. A. Sitoe. Thanks are due to the Director of INAHINA, Engº Albano Gove, for his critical comments and and valuable contribution.


1. Introduction
Mozambique is situated in the eastern coast of Southern Africa, between 10°27´ S and 26°52´ S latitude and 30°12´ E and 40°51´ E longitude. Mozambique is a coastal state, with about 2700 Km of coastline, the third longest in Africa. The ocean plays an important role in the country’s social, cultural and economy. To some extent Mozambique is a country built up from marine resources or related activities. From centuries Mozambican coast was one of the main point of trading and so, of communication between African (Southern Africa) and other civilisations such as Asians (since the V Century), Europeans (since XV Century). The culture of the people along the coast exhibits a mixture of cultures from Africa, Asia, and Europe. Muslim, Christian and African religions coexists together in a complex relationship. The main cities are located in coastal zone and most of the population about
Being the ocean a traditional and economical vein of communication, the maritime transports had been one of the most important Mozambican source foreign incomes. There are three large ports in Mozambique: Maputo, Beira and Nacala, and several small ports: Inhambane, Quelimane, Pebane, Angoche, Pemba. The main ports are the main gateway for the neighbouring countries. These ports provide valuable services not only for national customers but also, and mostly, for the inland states namely: Swaziland, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Congo. For example the total cargo handled in 1995 and 1996 was about 7.5x106 ton and 8.4x106 ton, respectively. Both the road and railways networks are built to facilitate regional trade rather than the national economic integration of the country. The transport sector used to be an important foreign exchange earner from the transit facilities offered to the neighbouring countries. The total goods transported through the Mozambican railways were 3.1x106 ton and 4.1x106 ton in 1995 and 1996, respectively. Apart from the maritime transports, there is an important fishing fleet operating in bays, coastal waters and open sea waters adjacent to Mozambique. Further, Mozambique Channel is a root for cargo ships connecting Southern Africa, South America and the Northern Africa, Persian Gulf and India. Before the opening of the Suez Channel, ships from Europe to Asia used to sail through Mozambican waters.
Most of the ports are located in the Bay and estuaries, with dynamical seabed and shallow banks. The important fishing grounds are located in the shelf, and most of it is shallow or with patches of corals or rocks, which makes it danger for fishing and navigation. Hence, there was a need to develop efficient maritime services to ensure safe navigation for the vessels travelling from/to Mozambican harbours or in transit through the Mozambican coastal waters. The Mozambican hydrographic institute (INAHINA) was given the mandate to, among others, render necessary support to navigators and carry out research on techniques of maritime aids to navigation. This institutions is thus, the main responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the tide gauge stations, production of tide tables and hydrographic maps. In Mozambique there are more institutions dealing with Marine sciences, coastal zone management or related areas. These institutions may use the products provided by INAHINA or, in many cases, may develop their on tide prediction scheme for other areas apart from the harbours, where INAGINA is covering. The main institutions dealing with marine sciences or maritime affairs are the University, IIP and INAHINA. In annex it is presented a summary of their job description. For IIP a list of the technical staff is also presented.
The tide gauge stations net work of the country is presented in figure 1. Most of the tide gauge stations are located in the harbours, and primarily designed to provide aid to navigation to the vessels sailing to and from the harbours, and along the Mozambican coastal waters, and not much for scientific interest.
Initial there were about 13 tide gauge stations in operation along the coast. However, due to the long civil war and to the lack of financial and technical capacity to maintain the stations, they were reduced to 4 stations operational stations. Two stations were selected for GLOSS network, the Inhambane and Pemba stations located in southern and northern Mozambique, respectively. The Pemba station, is currently in operation, but the tide gauge at Inhambane is not, at the moment, functioning. It worked at irregular intervals only for two year, and the data obtained was of poor quality.

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