Congo Marine Program

The Republic of Congo's coastal and offshore waters represent a key transition area between the warmer, more turbid Gulf of Guinea and the cooler waters of southern Africa, making for some of the most productive fishing zones in the world. Threatened nesting sea turtles rely on the country's beaches, and its coastal waters are important habitat for many cetaceans, including migrating humpback whales, Brydes and sperm whales, and Critically Endangered Atlantic humpback dolphins. The Congo Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) contributes significantly to food security and poverty alleviation in fisheries-dependent coastal communities, but, like fishing grounds the world over, this zone is also highly vulnerable to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) exploitation. To tackle this issue WCS Congo, together with the Congolese Government and other partners, has initiated a broad marine conservation program aimed at strengthening and increasing Marine Protected Areas (MPA) as well as ensuring the sustainable management of marine resources.

 

Goals

In order to support the Government of Congo in alleviating the threat of IUU exploitation; conserving marine biodiversity; and improving the livelihoods of artisanal fishermen, the Congo Marine Program is structured on three pillars:

1. MPAs (Marine Protected Areas): Expansion of existing MPAs and identification and designation of new MPAS

2. Integrated Marine Spatial Tool: Develop this tool for Congo in support of global maritime reforms

3. Capacity Building: To strengthen fisheries management, surveillance and law-enforcement by local administration.

Accomplishments

Since the launch of the Congo Marine Program, the Congolese Ministry of Environment, and Ministry of Fisheries have expressed a strong willingness to work with WCS and partners in order to strengthen institutional capacity within the Congolese Fisheries Directorate. The last two years of stakeholder consultations culminated in a multi-sectorial and ministerial workshop in April 2017 in Pointe Noire, to formally launch the project.

A lot of data have already been collected, together with our partners, to support the design of the marine spatial strategy. Spatial and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) analysis being carried out since 2015 has revealed that the spatial footprint of the industrial fisheries sector impacts 22.3% of Congo’s EEZ (8,189 km²), of which 12% lies within the Conkouati-Douli National Park and 14% within the artisanal fisheries zone. Alongside this, socioeconomic surveys indicated that 96% of individuals had observed industrial fishing within the artisanal fisheries zone.

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WCS Congo Program
B.P. 14537 Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
+(242) 05 722 7411