Alcyon Project: Protecting seabird and marine IBAs in West Africa

  • Why ‘Alcyon’?

    The name of the project is taken from Greek mythology; the alcyon (or sometimes halcyon) being a bird which is a good omen for navigators. It was supposed to build its nest far out at sea in calm and protected water. Thus, the name of this bird symbolizes the project’s main objective: to protect critical off-shore areas for seabirds.

    Project Objectives:

    Protecting seabird in West Africa, by identifying marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in West Africa.  To reach the purpose, the project will:

    - Identify marine IBAs and threats which these sites face
    - Integrate marine IBAs into national and regional (e.g. Abidjan Convention) marine management and spatial planning frameworks;
    - Strengthen local capacity and mobilize resources to sustain conservation actions

    The challenges

    - Advance marine conservation in NE Atlantic Ocean
    - Generate sustainable conservation benefits and introduce BirdLife’s thinking and way of working into marine circles in West Africa


    Key Activities being undertaken:

    Mainly: we are generating knowledge of selected species’ at-sea distributions, in order to define critical resources and habitats, or offshore IBAs, as well as potential threats, and to propose appropriate measures for conservation and resource management. That means several research and monitoring activities:

    - GPS tracking of wintering species (northern gannets and Audouin’s gulls) and breeding species (Cape Verde shearwaters; red-billed tropicbirds, royal and Caspian terns and slender-billed gulls, fea’s petrel etc...)

    - Dietary studies to identify main prey types, and we will overlay IBAs with fishing data to identify where IBAs either support existing marine protected areas (MPAs) or where new MPAs could be created for both seabird conservation and spatial management of extractive industries (fisheries, oil and gas, sediment mining, etc.)

    - Developing statistical tools for using at-sea datasets to define marine IBAs along the west africa offshore

    At the same time, we are reinforcing the protection of the colonial seabird located in the pilot MPAs by supporting training of local partners.




    Funded by:

    MAVA Foundation


    Implemented by:

    Fondation Internationale du Banc d’Arguin (FIBA) until December 2014. From January 2015, Alcyon project is handed over to BirdLife International for its onwards implementation


    Project countries:

    Mauritania, Senegal, Cabo Verde, Gambia ; Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone


    Project Partners:

    Biosfera I ; NGO Lantuna, DGA and DGP (Cabo Verde); Direction of National Parks (DPN-Senegal), DAMP (Senegal) ; National Park of Banc d’Arguin (PNBA-Mauritania), Department of Parks & Wildlife Management (DPWM-The Gambia), Instituto da Biodiversidade e das Áreas Protegidas (IBAP- Guinea Bissau), VEDA Consultancy, University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar, University of Cabo Verde, University of Nouakchott ; CEFE- University of Montpellier ; University of Barcelona, all the BirdLife Partners of the Atlantic and Mediterraneans coastal Countries of Africa ; etc....

    Contact information:

    Justine Dossa
    Alcyon Project Manager
    BirdLife International Marine Programme
    c/o  Wetlands International Africa, Rue 111 No 39B Zone B
    P.O. Box 25 581 Dakar, Fann Senegal