WIOMSA is a regional professional, non-governmental, non-profit, membership organization, registered in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The organization is dedicated to promoting the educational, scientific and technological development of all aspects of marine sciences throughout the region of Western Indian Ocean (Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion(France)), with a view toward sustaining the use and conservation of its marine resources. The Association has about 1000 individual members as well as about 50 institutional members from within and outside the region.

The organization’s inter-disciplinary membership consists of marine scientists, coastal practitioners, and institutions involved in the advancement of marine science research and development. The Association: (1) provides a forum for communication and exchange of information amongst it members that promotes and fosters inter-institutional linkages within and beyond the region; (2) supports marine research by offering research grants; (3) implements programs to build the capacity of marine scientists and coastal management practitioners; and (4) works to promote policy dialogue on key topics by organizing meetings and seminars on the findings and policy implications of science.

WIOMSA promotes marine science research through the award of research grants under the Marine Science for Management (MASMA) and the Marine Research Grant (MARG) programmes. MASMA is a competitive research grant scheme designed to support research activities in the region as well as organisation of training courses/workshop. The grants, which range from US$ 15,000 to US$ 50,000 per annum, are available to teams of scientists or individual researchers from the region.

In addition to the on-going capacity building program in ICM and MPA, WIOMSA has organized/hosted a number of regional workshops and meetings that provided the linkage between science and management.

Recently, WIOMSA also signed Memorandum of Understanding with UNEP as the secretariat to the Nairobi Convention, whereby WIOMSA will be responsible for providing research, technical, managerial and advisory support to UNEP as requested.

WIOMSA in collaboration with UNEP is hosting a regional Group of Experts on Marine Protected Areas for the Eastern African region (GEMPA). GEMPA has been established with the aim of building a constituency for marine protected areas in the region and to provide a forum for linkages and dialogue between MPA practitioners and experts, and between government and non-government organizations.