The area of Joal-Fadiouth lies on the Petite Côte of Senegal, 114 km South from the capital city of Dakar. The MPA was created in 2004 to protect and increase the productivity of fisheries and all the related ecosystems that help biodiversity thrive, such as seagrasses and mangroves, as well as to improve the economic and social conditions of the local populations. The conservation of the area is all the more important that the National Implementation Team found two species of seagrasses, namely, Cymodocea nodosa and Halodule wrightii.
The area’s exceptional value lies in the abundant marine fauna and flora. Mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, algae, sand banks and mudflats are crucial habitats to a rich bird fauna, fishes, sea turtles, lamantin and dolphins. The economic value of large fisheries is indisputable as is shown by the settlement of the largest landing dock of West Africa. This site is also of cultural importance. The Serer culture revolves around this particular environment. In Fadiouth island, where 99% of the population is Serer, the organization of fisheries, rituals and ceremony are embedded in the respect of this sacred fauna and flora. In addition, this area is key to maintain the livelihood of women who practice seashell harvesting.
Seagrasses are keystone of this abundant diversity. Yet, the opening to foreign vessels, the settlement of industries, demographic pressures, pollution, oil exploration, all potentially represent a threat for the area’s seagrass meadows. This situation calls for further exploration to fully map the extent of seagrasses in the area.