A lot has changed since November 2019, when the ResilienSEA project awarded four seagrass research scholarships to master’s students. However, the recipients’ determination to complete their programs and protect seagrass ecosystems has not.
As part of the ResilienSEA project, The Gambia’s National Implementation Team (NIT) organized a day-long training on January 7th for over thirty journalists from the print and online press. The training was centered around the importance of seagrass, including the multiple ecosystem services they provide. The training was coordinated by the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management (DPWM), who heads the NIT, and by Biodiversity Action Journalists (BAJ). The ResilienSEA project is coordinated by GRID-Arendal and Wetlands International and funded by the MAVA Foundation.
In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Momodou Lamin Gassama, Director of the DPWM expressed delight for its department to be hosting such an important event. After presenting the purpose of the training and the anticipated outcomes, Mr. Gassama gave a brief presentation on the importance of seagrass and their ecosystem services.
The Director also gave a briefing on the various locations such as Brufut, Tanji, Gunjur and Kartong, where seagrasses have been located during previous exercises conducted by the NIT over the course of 2020. Urging all to take part in the conservation and protection of seagrasses, Mr. Gassama also emphasized the need for information dissemination on the multiple values of seagrass, and tasked journalists to be frontrunners in that regards.
For his part, during his presentation, Mr. Omar Sanneh from the DPWM first presented the aims and objectives of the ResilienSEA project. Mr. Sanneh also presented the two different types of seagrass species discovered so far in The Gambia, Cymodocea nodosa and Halodule wrightii.
Cymodocea nodosa in The Gambia
Mr. Dawda Saine, President of the National Association of Artisanal Fisheries (NAAF), on the other hand focused on the different threats to seagrass. Mr. Saine illustrated these threats by projecting a zoning of the sea and of its different uses. The impact of different user groups on seagrass was highlighted.
Ms. Ramatoulie Jallow, a reporter from the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), thanked the organizers on behalf of all participants for holding the training, and called her colleagues to use their respective media platforms to raise awareness among local communities, as well as among the industries responsible for marine pollution. Ms. Jallow further called for more capacity development for environmental journalists, to enable them to carry out this mission successfully.
The closing remarks were provided by Mr. Kawsu Jammeh, Senior Wildlife Conservation Officer. Mr. Jammeh reiterated the value of this type of training exercises and urged participants to take the lead in advocating for the conservation of seagrass and other important marine resources, for the benefit of both present and future generations. Mr. Jammeh also emphasized the need for a wider stakeholder involvement.
The Gambia’s NIT will be conducting field surveys and monitoring missions in the coming weeks to assess the health of its seagrass meadows at its three pilot sites, Ganjur, Bijol and Kartong.