Posted on 23 March 2009
Lessons learned: WWF WAMER’s MPA knowhow moves to Ghana. A Ghanaian delegation from the NGO Friends of Earth and the Ministry of Fishery were in Senegal early in March 2009 to see how WAMER models could be adapted for Ghanaian needs. At the same time, the Senegalese Government called on WWF WAMER to take part in a technical mission of the Intergovernmental oceanographic Commission in Senegal aiming at improving MPA policies. WWF WAMER’s success in the creation and management of MPAs is due to the central role played by local communities, targeted capacity building of all stakeholders and the creation of income generating activities. Joal- Fadiouth’s MPA is a good example.
WWF WAMER plays a crucial role in the creation and management of MPAs in Senegal and Cape Verde- from the collection of baseline biodiversity and socio-economic data to the formulation and implementation of management plans. In Senegal, 4 sites (Joal-Fadiouth, St. Louis, Cayar, and Abéné) are currently in various stages of development. Thanks to the combined efforts of government bodies, local communities, and the WWF WAMER, Joal Fadiouth MPA has been the first to be fully operationalized. Communities are the foundation: Ensuring community support and commitment is at the core of WWF WAMER‘s MPA strategy and was a key criterion in the site selection process which reduced an original list of 33 potential sites to 4: Joal Fadiouth, Cayar, Abene and St Louis. The strategy is based on co-management principles whereby communities and government authorities share management authority and responsibility. According to WWF WAMER’s Coordinator, Dr. Papa Samba Diouf, “'Co-management' means that communities understand, adapt, appropriate, and actively participate in running marine protected areas which in turn helps to protect marine and coastal resources vital to their needs. Co-management is critical to the sustainability of conservation efforts so it’s important to invest enough time and effort and to have a solid communications strategy for the different sites. With the objective of ensuring community ownership of the MPA in Joal-Fadiouth, 16 different stakeholder groups representing fishers, fish processors, private sector users, tourism professionals etc. were consulted. Several meetings between user groups, National Parks representatives and those of Fishery. Department were held with technical and financial support of WWF WAMER to explain the objectives and roles of the MPA. A communication strategy was drafted with the community radio station at the center. The stakeholders elected a MPA Management Committee and members of various subcommittees. MPA activities, such as the collection of baseline surveys, participatory zoning, and the drafting of management guidelines were coordinated by the Management Committee in partnership with local government. Even the installation of the buoys, which demarcate the geographic limits of the MPA, was discussed and agreed by all stakeholders. A good example of co-management in action is the park surveillance system whereby members of the surveillance committee patrol both day and night with National Parks officers. The committee members are mainly fishers who contribute their time for free. Capacity Building: The MPA concept is quite new and their management is under the responsibility of both the Management Committee and local government - mainly National Parks and the Fisheries Departments. Given the complexity of management tasks and the variety of stakeholders, training has been provided to help the various parties to learn to work together and the build a common vision on what co-management entails. A workshop was organized for members of the Management Committees and local government authorities from the 5 existing MPAs in Senegal. This was followed by a site visit to the nearby Bamboung MPA which has been operational for several months to allow participants to see how the process works and to speak directly with community members. Income generating activities: The creation of the Joal-Fadiouth MPA meant that some stakeholders like marine turtle hunters and traders, would have to end their activities because the capture of marine turtles is forbidden in the MPA. WWF WAMER helped them to organize into an association and provide support for their conversion to other income generating activities like guiding tourists. The same thing is underway with the purse seine fishermen whose activities are also forbidden within the limits of the MPA. WWF is helping them to organize and is ready to fund them to adopt alternative activities. Joal Fadiouth MPA is an evolving example of how comanagement of an MPA can lead to greater satisfaction and empowerment of local communities, government bodies and interested parties from many countries in the sub region. When MPAs are carefully developed, both nature and people win.