Governments of the Atlantic Coast of Africa Commit to the Effective Conservation of Marine Megafauna

Saly, Senegal, 7 September 2023 – Today, a historic series of meetings, the ‘CMS Marine Megafauna Week: Atlantic Coast of Africa’, came to a successful conclusion. In collaboration with the Regional Partnership for the Conservation of the Coastal and Marine Zone (PRCM), four meetings were held over the course of four days, bringing together government representatives, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and scientists for detailed discussions on four draft action plans for marine species in this biodiversity-rich region:

  1. A revised Conservation and Management Plan for Marine Turtles – adopted by Signatory States to the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Conservation Measures for Marine Turtles of the Atlantic Coast of Africa.
  2. A draft Conservation and Management Strategy for Sharks and Rays – endorsed for further development.
  3. A draft Single Species Action Plan for the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin – endorsed for adoption by the 14th meeting of the CMS Conference of the Parties (COP14).
  4. A draft Action Plan to Address Aquatic Wild Meat Harvests in West Africa – endorsed for adoption by COP14.

The week began, on 4 and 5 September, with the 3rd Meeting of Signatories of the Abidjan/Atlantic Turtle MOU. Participants reviewed the latest information on the conservation status of marine turtles across the region, discussed the challenges and opportunities for regional collaboration, and agreed an updated Conservation and Management Plan. The Abidjan MOU, which was concluded under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) covers the coastal areas of 26 countries, extending 14,000 km from Morocco to South Africa, including important nesting sites, feeding areas and migration corridors.

On the afternoon of 5 September, a draft conservation and management strategy for sharks and rays in the Gulf of Guinea region was presented to Range State representatives. They welcomed the development of a regional strategy and recommended expanding it to the entire Atlantic coast of Africa. They thanked the experts who had helped compile the draft and expressed their desire to contribute to its further development.

A draft Single Species Action Plan for the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin (Sousa teuszii), developed and refined through a consultation process over several months, was presented on 6 September. Atlantic Humpback Dolphins are endemic to the coastal waters of the Atlantic Coast of Africa. Following an overview of the dire conservation status of the species across its range, participants discussed the action plan in detail. A revised draft will be presented to CMS COP14 for adoption.

On the final day of the Megafauna Week (7 September), the attention switched from a focus on individual species to a threat common to all the groups covered during the week: the exploitation of marine megafauna for aquatic wild meat. An action plan drafted by the CMS Aquatic Wild Meat Working Group, as requested by COP13, had previously been discussed in a series of online meetings that took place between June and August 2023. This final in-person meeting provided an opportunity to refine and finalize the draft before it is presented to COP14.

The representatives of 14 governments also adopted the Saly Declaration, reinforcing their commitment to marine species conservation.

For more information about the Marine Megafauna Week please contact: Melanie Virtue, Head of the CMS Aquatic Species Team at: [email protected]


Last updated on 10 February 2024

Plastic Pollution
Wild Meat
Unsustainable fishing and harvesting aquatic resources
Species group: 
Marine mammals