Sustainable governance of marine and coastal resources and territories

Hans Verdaat
Published: 29 January 2016
Last edited: 09 July 2019
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Soon after the first offshore oil field was discovered an intense public debate started in Mauritania about environmental and social risks of this sector. That led to the development of the Programme Biodiversity Oil and Gas, which aims, through a collaborative and integrated approach, at collating data in the marine environment, understanding the ecological consequences of human uses, designing and developing technical tools to monitor activities, and implementing corresponding policies. These activities are currently continued and consolidated with the GIZ "Co-management of marine, coastal and terrestrial resources" (CorMCT) program. 


West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Deep sea
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Open sea
Coastal and marine spatial management
Fisheries and aquaculture
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Aichi targets
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge


Mauritania | Nouadhibou, Nouakchott, Chami


The EZZ of Mauritania is no longer the exclusive playing ground of fishermen. The oil and gas sector started exploitations in the early 2000’s. The cumulative effects of sea users lead Mauritania to a necessary marine spatial planning. All these sectors are of great value for national economy. All stakeholders have to be part of a global solution that preserves marine environment and its economic potential.


  • Local communities
  • Mauritanian state (government, national institutes, national parks)
  • Civil society (environmental NGOs, professional organizations)
  • Private sector
  • Universities and research institutes

How do the building blocks interact?



  1. Awareness raising: communication campaigns at national and regional levels have contributed to highlighting the importance of deep sea. More and more people understand the value of healthy marine ecosystems and why it is important to protect marine resources, for their intrinsic value but also for their economic value.
  2. A capacity building programme has provided national stakeholders (both administration and civil society) with equipment, training and networks that enable them to play a significant role in the environmental follow-up of industrial activities. The Ministry of Environment and a marine research institute collaborate actively with an international network of scientific institutes specialized in shallow water and deep sea environment.
  3. A monitoring and early warning system has been developed as the first of its type on the continent. This tool aims at strengthening the partnership between the government and private sector by identifying sources of pollution and implementing a sound environmental control and an efficient mitigation policy.
  4. Voluntary participation of the private sector: because conservation policymaking in Mauritania cannot be fully supported by the public sector. A more transparent and trustful communication with the private sector provided funding and improved sharing of non-commercial data for conservation planning and action within ProGRN.


Moulaye Wagne, researcher from the Laboratory of Marine and Coastal Environment Studies (LEMMC) of the Mauritanian Research Institute for Oceanography and Fisheries (IMROP):


"Since 2012, IMROP, with other partners such as the National Institute for Sanitary Inspection on the Fisheries and Aqua farming products (ONISPA), the Environmental Control Direction, the university and national parks, is establishing an early warning system regarding micro-pollution on marine ecosystem functioning. The ongoing phase that should last till the end of 2015 aims at establishing baseline levels of micro-contaminants. In a second phase, as of 2016, our tool will act as an early warning system. So far we have been sampling sediments, fish, bivalves, crabs, water four times a year and chemical as well as bioassays and biomarkers analyses. We take advantage of being on the field and all along the coastline to observe and record the stranding of cetaceans and turtles, and count sea bird populations. These moments are also the opportunity to train students and civil servants of the national parks. First of this type in Africa, this early warning system will enable the country to indirectly monitor industrial activities on the coast and at sea and make sure appropriate measures will be taken prior to any significant pollution or damage to the marine environment.”

Contributed by

Martin Obermaier GOPA Consultants

Other contributors

GOPA Consultants
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH