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The role of Marine Protected Areas in sustaining fisheries: the case of the National Park of Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania

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Mauritania is characterized by fast-growing fisheries that have developed over the past several decades from low levels of fishing to intense fishing and have led to severe decreases in biomass and severe signs of overexploitation. To ensure sustainable fisheries, a primary goal of science-based fisheries policy is to provide an adequate conservation status of marine habitats that are directly, or indirectly, fundamental for the lifecycle of fish populations of commercial interest. The National Park of Banc d’Arguin has been recognized for its nursery and fish biomass export functions. In this paper, we present the economic value of the fish provisioning service of marine coastal ecosystems of the protected area. We estimated the added value of artisanal fisheries, the spatial distribution of fishing activities, the contribution of the Park to the Mauritanian fisheries and the heritage value of artisanal fisheries.

Overall, the average added value for artisanal fisheries is about 43 million MRU (1 million euros) over the period 2006-2017. It mainly benefits to the ship-owners, which generates inequalities and threatens the livelihoods of the Imraguen. The spatial distribution of fishing activities and associated revenues shows high variability throughout the years, the seasons and the geographic areas, and reveals the high adaptability of Imraguen fishers. Fishing grounds are mostly located close to the shore, associated with seagrass beds, confirming the service of fish provisioning rendered by this ecosystem. Furthermore, the high productivity of seagrass beds contributes to the spill-over of biomass. The contribution of the Park to fishing activities that occur within the Mauritanian Exclusive Economic Zone is estimated to 15%, representing an added value creation of 3.2 billion MRU (71 million euros). The heritage value of the fisheries is assessed, through fishers’ willingness to accept to stop their fishing activities, at 17.5 million MRU (0.4 million euros). Thus, this paper highlights the necessity of incorporating an ecosystem-based approach along with fishers’ knowledge and adaptability into future conservation plan of the National Park of Banc d’Arguin and fisheries management at the local, national and regional scale.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFisheries and Aquaculture Journal
Early online date9 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 9 Sep 2020

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