The Agoa Marine Mammal Sanctuary, situated in the French West Indies, is a marine protected area designated in 2010 and recognized under the SPAW (Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife) protocol of the Cartagena Convention in 2012.
The territory of the Sanctuary
A huge marine space
With a surface area of 143 256 km², the Agoa Sanctuary is the second largest marine protected area in France, just behind the Coral Sea Natural Park in New Caledonia. The Sanctuary covers the entire exclusive economic zone of the French West Indies, i.e. the waters of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy.
The Agoa Sanctuary aims to ensure a favorable conservation status for marine mammals by protecting them and their habitats from the direct or indirect, proven or potential negative impacts deriving from human activities.
The Declaration of Creation of the Sanctuary states, as overarching goal, the achievement of good conservation status for species and heritage habitats. The Declaration also draws the main management guidelines (principles of action) to be implemented.
Appropriate measures (...) will be taken in the Sanctuary to ensure a favorable conservation status of marine mammals by protecting them and their habitats
The declaration specifies five major principles of action to be implemented over the long term :
- Limit the negative interactions (direct or indirect, potential or proven) between human activities and marine mammals and seek innovative ways to limit the impact of these activities (paragraphs § 5 & 6).
- Increase the knowledge of marine mammal populations and their habitats, as well as the current or potential anthropic pressures and threats affecting these species (paragraph § 7).
- Disseminate knowledge (information, awareness, education) and raise awareness of the Agoa Sanctuary, marine mammals and the marine environment in general (paragraph § 8).
- Cooperate with the State services in the framework of mutualizing the means of surveillance and control enforcement within the Sanctuary (paragraph § 9).
- Cooperate with other Caribbean states and especially with the Contracting Parties to the Cartagena Convention and its SPAW Protocol, as well as with states sharing marine mammal populations, in order to promote the implementation of protection and management measures similar to those of the Agoa Sanctuary (paragraph § 12).
In practice, the Sanctuary translates these foundational statements into four types of actions :
- Knowledge and monitoring : the Sanctuary monitors marine mammal populations in order to better adapt management strategies for their preservation,
- Exchange and collaboration : the Sanctuary's technical team works in collaboration with other marine stakeholders to limit negative interactions between human activities and marine mammals, and with government services to better control human activities,
- Information and awareness : informing the various users of this vast space and raising awareness among the population and the youth is one of the pillars of the Sanctuary's action,
- Cooperation : marine mammals have large and often poorly known home ranges. Working in cooperation with managers of neighboring and distant marine protected areas allows us to initiate preservation strategies at the scale of these large travellers.
Our management plan
Based on the management guidelines, the management plan determines the objectives of protection, knowledge, development and cooperation of the Agoa Sanctuary. This vision of coherent marine space management serves as a guiding principle for all of the Sanctuary's daily actions.
The first management plan covered the period from 2012 to 2017 and included two volumes : the initial status and the action plan and its indicators. A management plan for the period 2021-2036 is currently being finalized.
Under the hierarchical responsibility of Laurie Hec, Director of the Sanctuary, the team is composed of :
- an administrative assistant
- a scientific monitoring manager
- a human activities monitoring and guidance manager
- a data management manager
- a communication and awareness manager
- a project manager for the CARI'MAM international cooperation project
- an administrative and financial manager of the CARI'MAM project
- a scientific manager for the CARI'MAM project
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