Sene­gal fish­er­men shel­ter sea tur­tles

SAFETY | NET 147 sq km sandy beach cre­ated to pro­tect en­dan­gered species

The Asian Age - - World -

Joal-Fa­diouth, Sene­gal, July 3 : In a clas­sic case of “poacher turn­ing game­keeper”, the fish­er­men of Sene­gal have joined forces to pro­tect one of the ocean’s most en­dan­gered species — the sea tur­tle.

Three species can be found on the Sene­gal coast in west Africa. The most pop­u­lous is the green tur­tle and they are joined by the log­ger­head and leather­head which can weigh over 600 kilo­grammes.

They are all beau­ti­ful crea­tures but each is threat­ened by pol­lu­tion, poach­ing and, even now, the fish­ing net.

“Once we were the big­gest eaters of tur­tles, now we have be­come their big­gest pro­tec­tors,” says Ab­dou Karim Sall, a fish­er­man who is now the man­ager of a pro­tected marine zone through which the tur­tles pass.

Some 30 years ago, tur­tle meat was sold in the streets of Joal, one of the most im­por­tant fish­ing ports in Sene­gal, and in Fa­diouth, the port’s sis­ter vil­lage built on an ar­ti­fi­cial is­land made from heaps of shells.

“We ate them in the street, we cooked them at home,” says the 56-yearold Sall who leads the man­age­ment com­mit­tee for the Marine Pro­tected Area (MPA) of JoalFa­diouth, two hours south of Dakar.

Founded in 2004, and backed by the gov­ern­ment, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and sev­eral as­so­ci­a­tions, the MPA stretches over 147 square kilo­me­tres (57 square miles) and is made up of sandy beaches along a marine strip eight kilo­me­tres wide, as well as a net­work of man­groves and an area of sa­van­nah.

It is an area for the pro­tec­tion of en­dan­gered mi­gra­tory species, such as the sea tur­tle.

Sene­galese fish­er­men save a sea tur­tle from their fish­ing nets in Joal, Sene­gal, West Africa. — AFP

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