ResilienSEA in Senegal
Senegal lies at the westernmost point of Africa, bordered by Gambia, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau in the South, Mali in the East, and Mauritania in the North. The country presents a variety of ecosystems that range from steppes, savannahs, forests, to deltas, estuaries, and large beaches. As a result, Senegal benefits from a rich diversity of living systems with more than 3500 vegetal species and 4330 animal species. Interestingly enough, Senegal owes its regional standing to its abundant halieutic resource which holds a significant place in the country’s development.
The country is considered as one of the most stable democracy and economy of the region. Senegal’s stability is strongly dependent on the exploitation of natural resources. Agriculture holds an important place in the state’s development, and extractive industries capture most investments. These last decades, fisheries have dramatically grown in Senegal’s economy. Fishing products’ value has increased as a result of important investments in the industry. As such, coastal areas have developed and urbanized with the settlement of fishing industries, shipping ports and workers. Dakar, located on the Cape Verde peninsula, concentrate 50% of the urban population. Hence, healthy marine and coastal ecosystems are crucial for Senegal’s coastal communities and urban populations.
Nonetheless, the combined effects of human development and climate change are threatening the country’s environment and biodiversity. Most marine resources are in stress due to bad fishing practices, mining industries and offshore extraction, uncontrolled tourism and coastal development, as well as pollutions. The conservation of seagrass meadows can play a significant role in preserving Senegal’s rich biodiversity and its coasts.
Senegal has committed to enhance biological diversity (Convention on Biological Diversity) and to regulate fisheries. At the national level, the Littoral Law aims at balancing exploitation, coastal management and environment. At the local level, the country has created sixteen Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and four Marine Managed Areas (MMAs). Thus, it exists an important legal framework which can support efficient seagrass conservation.