Coastal and marine environment: media from the sub-region in consultation in Saly, Senegal

The marine and coastal environment will take centre stage in the meeting to which about thirty reporters specialised in environmental issues are expected from seven countries, including Guinea-Bissau, Cabo Verde, Mauritania, Senegal and Guinea, under the initiative of the Regional Partnership for Coastal and Marine Conservation (PRCM) and Wetlands International, an organisation working to protect wetlands in Africa, in particular.

For four days, these media professionals will mull over several issues, among which are “the functioning of coastal and marine ecosystems, mangrove ecosystems, the presentation of the Additional Protocol to the Abidjan Convention on the coastal and marine area, risks associated with the development of infrastructures or the importance of flagship species to socioeconomic and environmental development, biological diversity in general and the risks involved in hydrocarbon development in coastal marine waters”.

For Mr. Ahmed Senhoury, Director of the PRCM “Communication is key in protecting the coastal and marine environment, as it is about swaying decisions and inducing behavioural change for a better world for the purpose of sustainability…”. Reviewing the situation on the West Africa coastline, he described the uncontrolled occupation of marine areas, poor fishing practices, marine pollution and the vulnerability to climate change as the problems currently characteristic of the sub-region, at least for the coastline. To address the situation, he proposed a number of measures appealing Governments that had not yet done so to pass legislation on these issues and those that have already adopted laws in this regard to continue implementing them. Moreover, Mr. Senhoury advocated for increased cooperation among countries in the sub-region in order to achieve better results, preserve marine protected areas and involve the media in processing information related to the environment at large and marine environment in particular.

In the same vein, Mr. Pape WADE, Director of Programmes, Wetlands International, argued that the idea was to “turn participants, both as learners and trainers, into true environmental champions… ”. The place of an environmental and social impact study and transparency in fisheries were also expanded in presentations, which were followed by interesting and fruitful discussions throughout the day. It should be noted that participants were shown through field trips as well as “techniques and tips” how to successfully process information about the coastal and marine environment in a professional and impartial manner. A female participant welcomed the meeting as being timely, explaining that countries in the sub-region, such as Senegal, Cabo Verde and Guinea, were confronted with massive uncontrolled constructions along the coasts, an attack on the coastline openly and publicly, much to the discontent of environmental champions.