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Location Morocco, Nador
Central coordinates 2o 51.00' West  35o 10.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 18,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 105m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc (Affiliate)



Site description The site is a long narrow lagoon on the Mediterranean coast in north-east Morocco, lying between the Cap des Trois Fourches and the Cap de l’Eau (Ras el Ma). Sebkha Bou Areg (also known as Ma Chica) is separated from the open sea by a 24-km-long sandbar, broken near its middle by a narrow channel. The site is bordered on the north-west by the port of Beni Enzar, to the west by the town of Nador, and to the south by the village of Kariat Arkmane. Although covering almost 18,000 ha, the lagoon is shallow, nowhere more than 7 m deep, and in some areas salt is precipitated through evaporation of seawater. The limits of the IBA encompass the lagoon, its sandbar, and the fringing coast, including a rocky conical hill on a promontory which rises to 105 m, but most of the site lies below 10 m. Annual rainfall is 400 mm. The lagoon vegetation consists of Zostera marina and Posidonia caulinii: on shore, Salicornia dominates and there is a well-developed reedbed near Kariat Arkmane.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. A total of 160 species has been recorded at Sebka Bou Areg, many of them breeding. Phoenicopterus ruber and Glareola pratincola are both former breeders. The site is well known for its large numbers of waders and other waterbirds. In addition to the six species which regularly exceed IBA threshold levels, Glareola pratincola may do so exceptionally. Numenius tenuirostris formerly occurred, but the last confirmed sightings were of three overwintering birds in 1990 and 1991.

Non-bird biodiversity: Two nationally rare skinks, Chalcides ghiari and C. mauritanicus, are present.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  800-990 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis winter  5,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Charadrius alexandrinus winter  991 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
Larus michahellis breeding  5,457 breeding pairs  A4i  Not Recognised 
Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii winter  1,257 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis winter  74 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2014 very high not assessed low
unset
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (agricultural use) happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (commercial use) happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (domestic use) happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - run-off happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - sewage happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Sebkha Bou Areg Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 14,000 protected area contained by site 14,000  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
hunting -
tourism/recreation -
urban/industrial/transport -
other -
Notes: Collection of eggs and chicks of terns and gulls.

References BCEOM-SECA (1995c).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sebkha Bou Areg. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/12/2014

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