OPINION: Protecting Gambia's Marine Resources On A Sustainable Trajectory
REFLECTIONS OF PROTECTING GAMBIA'S MARINE RESOURCES ON A SUSTAINABLE TRAJECTORY BEFORE THE COMMENCEMENT OF FISH BREEDING SEASON AND NESTING OF MARINE TURTLES!!! Sustainable management and participatory governance is fundamental to the long-term sustainability of Marine resources in every nation. The Gambia is home to a diverse marine ecosystem such as wider varieties of fish, marine turtles, the West African manatee, and cetaceans. However, conservation and governance measures protecting fisheries resources are not fully explored and communicated to the citizenry regarding the sustainable harvest and protection of marine resources. The country have in place various Inter-ministerial cooperation (e.g. the existing coastal and marine environment working group), civil society participation (e.g. peoples’ coast network, GEPADG, Gunjur Environmental Concern Group, Turtle SOS The Gambia), and involvement of local communities (e.g. Gunjur and Kartong villages), all geared towards overseeing the 70 KM coastline of the country. Despite the presences of these institutions, the coastline of the country continued to experience over-fishing, the decline in marine turtle population, unregulated tourism development along the coastline and unsustainable commercial sand mining. In order to fully address the current issues affecting the coastal and marine environment of the country, emphasis needs to be placed on policy implementation and law enforcement of the existing Acts and Regulations. The various institutions having overlapping responsibility for the coastline needs to strengthen institutional collaborations, inter-departmental/ ministerial policy dialogue and as well nurture local community participation i
n protecting the marine resources of the country. The Gambia’s coastal and marine environment has witnessed higher socio-ecological stresses over the years, which are as a result of the coastal zone and marine resources serving various unsustainable interests. Yes, numerous conservation efforts were initiated with an attempt to rejuvenate and protect the marine resources of the country and as well provide economic incentives to local communities such as the ICAM I and II projects, Tanbi Wetland Reserve and the recent initiated Turtle Hatcheries in Gunjur and Kartong villages. In supporting national development endeavors of coastal and marine resource conservation, the Gambian government public led institutions needs to raise local awareness about the depletion of both marine and terrestrial resources as enshrined in Banjul Declaration in 1977. These institutions need to succor in minimizing the issues of fisheries over-harvesting, pollution of the coastline and the destruction of the country’s remaining forest covers through policy enforcement, monitoring and sanctioning, and as well strengthening the present policies protecting both the terrestrial and aquatic resources. GET IT STRAIGHT, WE ARE ACTVISITS WITH NO POLITICAL AGENDA BUT ADDRESSING ISSUES OF GREAT CONCERN!!!