ResilienSEA in Cabo Verde
Cabo Verde is an archipelago of ten volcanic islands, located 570 km off the West African coast. The archipelago is home to a multitude of species. Cabo Verde is a key area for birds with many of them being endemic. It is also the third world’s largest nesting site for sea turtles. The country’s rich environment reflects its unique history and diversity.
Cabo Verde is one of the most stable democracies and economies of the region. Its population reflects the fusion of African and European cultures with 71% of the population being Creole. The connection with the land stands out from the rest of the region. Because of the harshness of the climate and topography, agriculture has hardly developed. Likewise, the exploitation of fish resources is somewhat limited. Additionally, the vast majority of the population is urban and concentrated on Sao Tiago Island. Yet, Cabo Verdean strongly rely on their environment. The large population of endemic species and sea turtles prompted the development of tourism which became the main driver for economic growth. Moreover, most of human activities are located in low-lying coastal areas. This highlights the importance of healthy coastal and marine environments.
Human activities combined with the effects of climate change hinder on the current and future development of Cabo Verde. Despite a relatively low development of fisheries, the resource is suffering from unsustainable fishing practices and the construction of naval ports. Tourism is also threatening marine ecosystems. There is evidence of a correlation between increased hunting pressures on sea turtles, as well as rising levels of pollution with tourism.
The conservation of seagrass meadows can play a significant role in preserving Cabo Verde’s rich biodiversity and coasts. As such it is part of the country’s international commitment to preserve biological diversity (Convention on Biological Diversity). To date, it exists 46 Protected Areas and 3 Marine Managed Areas. Yet, the state of seagrass in Cabo Verde is practically unknown. The project ResilienSEA builds on the need to further research in order to improve their protection.