The NGO Conservation d'Especes Marines promotes a new important step for the creation of the first marine protected area in Côte d'Ivoire, with the support of CEPF
- By Jose Gomez Penate, CEM
From Sunday 8 to Saturday 14 December 2019, a mapping and assessment mission was organized in Grand Bereby and the surrounding villages by UN Environment and the Abidjan Convention as part of the next creation of the Marine Protected Area of Grand Bereby, which will be the first in Côte d'Ivoire.
The Abidjan Convention is the structure which provides the secretariat and the coordination of the activities of the National Working Group for the creation of Marine Protected Areas in Côte d'Ivoire.
The mission participants came from several Ivorian government structures, foreign experts such as Colonel Diop Abdoulaye (director of the MPA network of Senegal) and several NGOs’s, among others. The choice of the Grand Bereby site is the logical continuation of the work carried out in the area since 2010 by the Ivorian NGO Conservation of Marine Species (CEM). This work consisted first of all in protecting the four species of sea turtles that frequent the waters and beaches of the region, developing ecotourism, creating partnerships with hoteliers and local businesses, improving the standard of living of local residents.
Since the implementation of the sea turtle protection project in 2010 on the 30 km of beach between the villages of Mani, Pitiké and Kablaké, the area of the Ivory Coast most frequented by turtles, residents and local fishermen have created turtle conservation committees. They organize amongst themselves the surveillance of the females coming to lay on the beach at night, the protection of the nests and the release of the newborns. The project now employs no less than 24 young villagers who are responsible for the protection of more than 700 female turtles per year, ensure the birth of more than 30,000 small turtles, are responsible for welcoming and guiding tourists. For the NGO CEM, there is no doubt: "the fact that the field activities are carried out 100% by villagers strengthens their feeling that the project belongs to the villages". A customary local law relating to the protection of turtles, drawn up in a participatory manner, was validated and adopted by all the villages involved in the project.
Subsequently, CEM obtained CEPF's assistance in 2017 to carry out the work necessary to propose to the Ivorian government the creation of an MPA. The Ministry of the Environment has been made aware of CEM activities, and given the already consolidated achievements, the high natural value of the area, the presence of endangered species, its tourist potential, has decided to launch the project creation of the Marine Protected Area of Grand Bereby, which will be the first in Côte d'Ivoire. It will extend from the village of Menolé in the east to that of Kablaké in the west (about 50 km in a straight line), 22 km offshore and one kilometer inland land to protect beaches and coastal habitat.
This MPA will have the immediate consequence of reducing illegal fishing activities near the coasts and consequently increasing the number of catches by artisanal fishermen, conserving natural sites and endangered species, increasing the ecotourism and the promotion of local culture.
CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, and the World Bank.