Strengthening governance and management of marine resources in West Africa

Fishermen sticthing a fishing net
Fishermen stitching a fishing net in Senegal. Photo: WWF

With over 3,700 km of coastline, the West African Marine Eco-Region (WAMER) is one of the richest fishing areas in the world. This is due to the ocean’s currents, rivers, and estuaries that enrich the sea waters.

The existing large fishery resources, combined with poor agriculture performance on land, have attracted 60% of the population (more than 21 million people) to the coast of the countries from this region. The coastal and marine resources contribute significantly to food security, as fish is the primary source of animal protein in the daily diet. This is particularly the case in Senegal where local populations obtain 75% of their protein intake from fish. The fisheries sector also plays an important part in the economy of the WAMER region.  On average, it represents around 15 to 17% of GDP and 25 to 30% of the export revenues of these nations. The sector employs around 1.5 million people.

In addition, the waters off the coast of West Africa have a rich biodiversity, as they are home to over 1,060 species of fish, more than 600 species of birds, and 5 out of the 6 existing sea turtles in the world.

However, decades of commercial fishing and inadequate management are depleting valuable local stock and negatively affecting the lives of millions of people who depend on the sea. Illegal fishing is also having a major negative impact on national economies. Due to illegal fishing, Guinea is losing on an annual basis an estimated USD 110 million and Sierra Leone USD 29 million.

In order to address this situation, UNDP & World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) initiated in December 2011 a EUR 10.5-million project co-funded by the EU to improve governance and adopt best practices for sustainable use of marine and coastal resources in order to guarantee food security in the WAMER region. By the end of 2015, the project will attain the following results:

  • The design and implementation of a sub-regional action plan for the improvement of governance modalities and policies for the management of marine and coastal resources in the region.
  • The development and adoption of innovative tools and initiatives for the management of these resources in all 7 countries covered by the project.
  • Increased capacity of civil society (Non-Governmental Organizations, professional bodies, journalist networks) and local elected Parliamentarians in fisheries and environmental issues.
  • Improved living conditions of selected coastal communities through the provision of support to income-generating activities and environmentally-friendly activities.
Project video

Watch the video presenting the EU-funded project to improve governance and adopt best practices for sustainable use of marine and coastal resources in the WAMER region.

The WAMER region

The West African Eco-Marine region includes Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Fisheries generate constitute of the most important sources of foreign exchange in the region.