Participatory seagrass beds mapping by local fishermen

Published: 09 September 2020
Last edited: 21 September 2020

The fishermen used a bathymetric map of the MPA combined with GPS devices. Each GPS location marked corresponded to a 50m2 investigated area, in which the presence of seagrass was confirmed or not. The exact seagrasses species (primarily Cymodocea) were indexed for each site in a dedicated notebook. In total, around 1500 samples were collected within the MPA. A color code was then assigned to the different findings – seagrass, sands, or rocks – which were then transcribed onto a paper map thanks to the collected GPS coordinates. In addition, twenty surveys – acknowledging the seasonal bias – were conducted randomly over the course of one year with the aim of noting again the presence or absence of seagrass. The protocol for the surveys was inspired by examples provided by the Seagrass-Watch field guides. The paper map and GPS coordinates were later transformed into a digital map by Mr. Paul Tendeng, GIS technician from the Regional Network of Marine Protected Areas in West Africa (RAMPAO).


Collection of baseline and monitoring data and knowledge
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

In 2009, FIBA Foundation (Fondation Internationale du Banc d’Arguin) – which in 2014 merged with the existing MAVA Foundation – supported a first visit by seagrass expert Mr. Gérard Pergent (Pacal Paoli University of Corsica). In Joal, this visit and in-situ observations raised the attention of Mr. Abdou Karim Sall (President of the Joal-Faditouh MPA Management Committee) and other fishermen. This encounter shed light on the importance of seagrass in Joal-Fadiouth, especially for local resources like squids.

Lessons learned

Once the fishermen and the management committee of the MPA understood the importance to protect the seagrass beds for the benefit of their fisheries, they requested support from the FIBA foundation, with which they had a long standing trust relationship. Conducted in 2012-2014, they implemented the first participatory mapping of seagrasses in Senegal, with 70-80% of the work voluntarily conducted by fishermen themselves. The FIBA team, then based in Dakar and composed of Mr. Julien Semelin (Marine Species and Habitat Programme Coordinator), Mr. Simon Mériaux (Organizational Development Programme Coordinator), and Mr. Antonio Araujo (Technical Expert), both financially and technically supported the fishermen of Joal-Fadiouth. In total, FIBA provided around 20.000 EUR for materials, fuel, and awareness activities, and dedicated around 40 days of work for technical assistance.

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