Close up of Humpback whale head, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo Credit: Sallyrango/Getty Images

AnimalsEnvironment Congo11. December 2022

This Country Steps up Its Game to Protect Its Oceans

Congolese waters now have three brand-new marine protected areas (MPAs), taking measures to curb illegal fishing to protect not only the exceptional biodiversity it inhabits but also the livelihood of thousands of citizens.

“We started working in Congo in 2013, and helped with the launch of [the] Congo Marine [initiative] in 2016,” explains Dr. Kristian Metcalfe, of the Center for Ecology and Conservation from the University of Exeter. “Creating an effective MPA network isn’t a quick process, so we’re delighted to see Congo’s first three MPAs announced after years of hard work by a wide range of people and organizations.”

Following in Gabon’s and Ivory Coast’s footsteps, Congo’s three MPAs – a marine extension to Conkouati-Douli National Park along the border with Gabon, Loango MPA, and Mvassa MPA – cover a total of 4,000 square kilometers or 12% of Congo’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Eight more MPAs are in the works as part of a national Marine Spatial Plan approved in 2019. More than 40 species of sharks and rays call the new MPAs home – the coast of West Africa is also a critical migrating and breeding habitat for the Atlantic humpback whale and a vital nest ground for the leatherback turtle. Community fishing zones have been identified within the MPAs to help small-scall fishers preserve their livelihood whilst effectively curbing illegal and unregulated fishing.

Marine Mammals

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