Artisanal fishing and coastal conservation in West Africa
- Cite this article as:
- Campredon, P. & Cuq, F. J Coast Conserv (2001) 7: 91. doi:10.1007/BF02742471
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Artisanal fishing is an activity which has long occupied an important place on the West African coast. In less than 20 years, the increasingly widespread use of motors in fishing boats and cold storage facilities both on board and on land have enabled fishermen to master the constraints of space and time. Furthermore, globalization has created a demand for new products, thus influencing the behaviour of fishermen and consequently the status of some fish, turtle and marine mammal species. Development policies for artisanal fishing do not adequately reflect the importance of these changes. They tend to use inappropriate scales of reference, be it spatially (national borders take precedence over ecosystems) or temporally (the long-term consequences of development plans are seldom considered). Some international conservation organizations are testing promising new approaches to managing resources more sustainably and restoring degraded ecosystems, and their recent experiences can serve as useful examples to others. It is recommended to grant special rights of access to resident fishermen. In defending ‘their’ resources, they will also protect the ecological functions of the area. Close collaboration with administrations and development assistance agencies is needed to assess consequences of political decisions on the use of resources. The important role of marine protected areas as a tool for fishing management should be better documented and strengthened. These areas should not be considered as isolated units but rather as vital parts of a comprehensive system for improved coastal zone management. Consistent with the ecosystem approach, fishermen and their communities, being the main users of coastal resources, should also play a major role in the design and implementation of any fishing management actions.