Project

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MONK SEAL PROTECTION PROJECT AT

THE CAP BLANC PENINSULA

The Mediterranean monk seal is cataloged as critically endangered according to the IUCN.

Its current total population of the Mediterranean monk seal is of about 350-450 individuals

in its entire home range. The population is heavily fragmented and many small populations have become extinct in the last two decades. Numbers have continued to decline mostly as a consequence of the human invasion of the monk seal´s habitat and the adverse fishing practices in most of its remaining populations.

The Cap Blanc population (Mauritania-Morocco) is the only one that maintains its original colonial structure and where large aggregations of animals are still present. To protect the surviving colony, the CBD-Habitat Foundation (www.focamonje.es), along with the local NGO Annajah, regional authorities and Mauritanian artisan fishermen, created in 2001 the participative marine and terrestrial reserve "Coast of the Seals”, which protects the breeding caves and their surrounding waters from human disturbance and coastal fishing activity. Thanks to this protection, the colony is recovering and expanding geographically.

International cooperation activities have also been developed. Their aim is to improve the living and working condition of the artisanal fishermen. Awareness campaigns are also being carried out in school communities and among the general public.

Unfortunately, even though a considerable amount of progress has been made, much more needs to be done at the Cap Blanc Peninsula in order to have the Mediterranean monk seal removed from the brink of extinction. The monk seal breeding caves are just 7 km. away from Nouadhibou, the second largest city of Mauritania and its financial capital. Nouadhibou is greatly growing in size and the city has just been declared in 2013 a "free trade zone" due to the importance of its commercial and fishing harbor.

Human pressure is therefore increasing on the

breeding caves, as the city´s economic and fishing

activity prospers.

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