Below are some examples of projects we fund in this region:

Save the sea - Leveraging Action in the EU to Stop Illegal Fishing (Environmental Justice Foundation Charitable Trust – EJF)

An industrial trawler (c) EJF

The European Commission estimates that around 45,000 tonnes (1.1 bn euros) of EU seafood imports could come from unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing annually. Foreign-owned IUU vessels operating in West Africa, supplying high value seafood including shrimp and tuna to the EU, have direct links to European companies and ‘ports of convenience’ such as Spain’s Las Palmas, a hub for African fishing fleets. Better governance of marine resources and the eradication of IUU are hindered by a lack of information on the true beneficial owners of IUU vessels, as well as on the flag, licence, ownership and IUU fishing histories. The opaque nature of the supply chain makes it very difficult for coastal and importing States to identify, sanction and deter IUU vessels. It has proved very difficult to halt the import of ‘stolen fish’ in to the EU.

This project makes specific links between European seafood companies, consumers and policy-makers and IUU fishing in Africa. The new EU IUU Regulation presents a powerful opportunity to focus attention on transparency and marine governance focusing on flag States, Spanish ports and links between EU companies/individuals and IUU vessels. EJF uses this framework to present firsthand evidence and to work closely with EU policy-makers and decision-makers to support effective implementation of the Regulation, stimulate action by Spain, and leverage consumer, media and corporate support to help end IUU fishing and build marine sustainability in West Africa.

Towards international regulation of offshore energy exploitation (The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations - IDDRI)

oil rig (c) shutterstock

The recent series of accidents on offshore oil platforms have served to raise public awareness of the extent to which offshore energy exploitation is moving into increasingly deep waters. Whereas just after the Second World War industries were only drilling in around 10 m of water, it is now increasingly common for rigs to drill at depths of more than 2 km. The sea has so far revealed only a tiny fraction of its energy potential and new ultra-deepwater drilling technologies are being developed. Consequently, despite their environmental, economic and social impacts, the recent accidents are unlikely to halt the rush towards offshore drilling, especially given that the technical cost of deepwater drilling has been significantly reduced in recent years. This raises questions about risk management when developing these activities and of liabilities and compensation when accidents occur.

In this regard, the current international framework appears to be both incomplete and fragmented. Indeed, although the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) imposes a general obligation to protect the marine environment, no international convention specifically sets international standards determining the conditions under which States should issue drilling permits. Moreover, there are no specific rules on liability and compensation for pollution damage resulting from offshore exploration and exploitation, and regional initiatives remain isolated. Consequently, many experts are now asking whether the international regulatory system is sufficiently developed in view of the threats posed by offshore activities for marine biodiversity and the economy of coastal populations.

This project, supported by MAVA, aims at identifying options to strengthen the regulation of offshore activities. The process is to clarify the main challenges, identify the regulatory and governance gaps and assess the feasibility of developing new legal rules to bridge the gaps identified. This is being conducted for offshore activities at the global level and in certain specific regions, including West Africa.

Protecting and preserving the Sea Turtles of Cape Verde (Turtle Foundation Switzerland)

Sea Turtle Cape Verde (c) Joana HancockThe Cape Verde nesting population of Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is the third largest population in the world after the nesting populations of Oman and Southeast Florida. It is estimated that up to 90% of nesting occurs on the island of Boavista, the largest of the eastern islands with an area of approximately 620 km².

Although all species of sea turtles are protected by the laws of Cape Verde, they are exposed to multiple threats. The primary threats are the killing of female Loggerheads when they come ashore to nest and the destruction of their nesting beaches by uncontrolled construction. Additional threats include nest poaching, accumulation of rubbish in the water and on the beaches, targeted catch and unintentional catch (by-catch) of turtles in the sea.

In 2008, the Turtle Foundation implemented a system for direct protection of nesting females on the beaches in collaboration with the Cape Verdean army. Since then, the number of protected nesting beaches and partners in the implementation of the project has increased year on year. Today, the nesting beaches are patrolled by teams consisting of local military staff, Cape Verdean rangers and national and international volunteers. In addition, the Turtle Foundation regularly conducts awareness and education activities with rangers and the villagers of Boavista, and lobbying activities among governmental authorities and other stakeholders. Current plans include extending coverage to unprotected beaches of Boavista on the south-western coast of the island.