Conakry: West Africa experts mull over the conservation of sea turtles and seabirds

The survival of sea turtles and seabirds in the West Africa coastal area is a concern for stakeholders involved in the conservation of these species. It is in this context that the Ministry of Fisheries, in collaboration with the Regional Partnership for coastal and marine conservation in West Africa (PRCM), organized a workshop for about twenty managers from the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mauritania and Guinea.

For two days, participants reviewed fisheries legislation and practices in order to find ways of reducing bycatches of turtles and seabirds in member states of the Sub-Regional Fishery Commission (SRFC). Sea turtles and seabirds are among the species of marine wildlife facing serious threats. Based on our information, these threats include bycatches by commercial fisheries. Participants seized the opportunity of the workshop to take stock of and review the legislation on the protection of seabirds and sea turtles. As we have been told, recommendations would be made on the exclusive economic zone of SRFC member states.

For the Director of deep-sea and coastal fishing of Mauritania, Mr. Amadou Dia, there is a significant number of fishing vessels, especially longliners, that operate in the sub-region’s waters, thereby negatively impacting seabirds and sea turtles which are often bycaught. “In most of our legislations, these species are considered as endangered. In the majority of cases, the regulations in force in the sub-region have banned the fishing of turtles. Unfortunately, those are not spared from bycatches. To some extent, the fishing gear could be a factor.

Now, as part of the workshop, we’ll try to have observers on board, at least to gather data on bycatches, for no information is currently available on bycatches across the sub-region”, he stated. Aware of the danger confronting sea turtles and seabirds in sea sands and on the islands of Conakry, Dr Alkhaly Doumbouya, a researcher at the Boussoura National Centre for Fisheries Science, said that in the past the Centre organised on-site training at unloading areas in Conakry in order to limit damages. “Fishermen would therefore bring us bycatches. We would identify those, take their measurements and throw them back in the water”.

For Jean-Auguste Barthelemy Batieno, Operations Officer at the PRCM, expectations about the workshop are high. “We built on a regional study to establish the state of play. In this regard, a certain amount of information and data was collected. The idea now is share these data and have them approved, at least by national experts. At this stage, a number of relevant measures would be put forward and hopefully submitted to decision-makers”.

Source: Guineenews