Senegal celebrates creation of new marine protected areas



Posted on 13 July 2005  | 
Artisanal fishing in Senegal makes up a large part of the country's national budget.
© WWF-Canon / Olivier van BogaertEnlarge
Dakar, Senegal – WWF has recognized the creation of five new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by the government and local communities of Senegal as a Gift to the Earth, the global conservation organization's highest accolade for significant conservation achievements.

The establishment of a network of MPAs off the Senegalese coast – covering a total area of 82,500ha – is crucial for the protection of fish spawning grounds and stock recovery. Nearly 700 fish species have been recorded in Senegal's waters, together with 20 cetaceans and five marine turtle species.

“We welcome this historic and visionary act made by local communities and the government of Senegal for future generations,” declared Dr Claude Martin, Director General of WWF International, who attended the ceremony in Senegal. 

"We also look to Senegal to continue its leadership in marine resource managmenet and to work with other countries in the region to develop more sustainable fisheries agreements."

Over the past few years, local communities have been working with the Senegalese government to ensure the protection of the country's marine and coastal resources, which are being threatened by overfishing, illegal catches, and the destruction of spawning grounds
 
According to WWF, the quantity of commercially-valued fish caught in Senegal's territorial waters has decreased by more than 80 per cent since the 1950s. These are worrying statistics as the fishing industry makes up a fourth of Senegal's national budget, creates numerous jobs, and constitutes an important source of protein for coastal and inland populations. 

The establishment of the five MPAs represents a benchmark for the regional programme for the protection of coastal and marine resources (PRCM), which was catalyzed through a partnership between WWF, IUCN, the International Foundation for the Banc d'Arguin, Wetlands International, and the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission for the safeguard of the region’s marine resources and benefit of local fishermen.

"It is a new hope for Senegalese fishermen," said Papa Samba Diouf, Coordinator of WWF's Western Africa Marine Ecoregion Programme.

"The MPAs are essential to a sustainable management of fishing areas, especially when resources are already strongly exploited in Senegal. We hope that the creation of the new reserves will be a model for the creation of others in Senegal and in the sub-region.” 

During the event, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade pledged to create 10–15 new MPAs in his country, as well as establish two transboundary MPAs with neighbouring Mauritania and The Gambia.

Representatives from The Gambia committed to establishing a further two MPAs, as well as Cape Verde, which said it was also committed to the establishment of a biosphere reserve. Guinea Bissau committed to one new MPA to be established by 2007.

END NOTES: 

• At the fifth World Parks Congress in September 2003, the government of Senegal declared its intention to create five new marine protected areas. This declaration of intent was honoured one year later through a government decree.

• The five MPAs consist of the St Louis, Kayar, Joal-Fadiouth, Abéné, and Bamboung Marine Protected Areas.

• The Western African Marine Ecoregion (WAMER) covers the Cape Verde Islands, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, and Senegal. One of WWF's objective in this area is to improve the conservation status of marine turtles in West Africa by preserving marine turtle hotspots, improving knowledge on marine turtles species, and stengthening sub-regional collaboration.

For more information:

Papa Samba Diouf, Coordinator
WWF West Africa Marine Ecoregion
Tel:+221 869 37 00
E-mail: wamer@wwfsenegal.org
 
Arona Soumaré, Marine Protected Areas Programme Officer
WWF West Africa Marine Ecoregion
Tel:+221 869 37 04
E-mail: asoumare@wwfsenegal.org
 
Frédéric Bambara, Communications Officer
WWF West Africa Marine Ecoregion
Tel:+221 869 37 05
E-mail: fbambara@wwfsenegal.org
Artisanal fishing in Senegal makes up a large part of the country's national budget.
© WWF-Canon / Olivier van Bogaert Enlarge

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