U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Statement from Bryan Arroyo,

Assistant Director for International Affairs, on the

Expansion of Gabon's Marine Protected Area Network

June 5, 2017

A pair of bottlenose dolphins in Gabon. Credit: © Peadar Brehony

A pair of bottlenose dolphins frolic in the waters of Mayumba National Park, previously the country’s only national park dedicated to the protection of marine species and one of the locations of a recent coastal survey by WCS, National Geographic, and Gabon’s Agence Nationale de Parcs Nationaux (ANPN). Credit: © Peadar Brehony

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service commends the Government of Gabon for its dedication and commitment to marine conservation and sustainable fisheries and its innovative approach that serves as a model and inspiration for effective marine resource management. At The Oceans Conference in New York, President Ali Bongo Ondimba today announced the Government of Gabon’s decision to expand its Marine Protected Area (MPA) network by adding nine new marine parks and 11 new aquatic reserves, which will bring its total area to 53,000 square kilometers, just over 26 percent of the country’s Territorial Sea and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Gabon has one of the most productive marine ecosystems of the world. In 2014, President Ali Bongo Ondimba announced the initial creation of the country’s MPA network, the first of its kind in Central Africa. Since then, it has been effective at curbing illegal fishing and providing benefits to species and coastal communities. The expanded MPA network will go far to benefit the country’s marine biodiversity, including whales and dolphins, African manatees, leatherback and olive ridley sea turtles, and economically and ecologically important fish species.

In working towards an expanded MPA network as part of its national Gabon Bleu (“Blue Gabon”) initiative, the Gabonese national parks agency (ANPN), in collaboration with the Gabonese Navy and Gabon's national fisheries agency, succeeded in bringing together diverse stakeholders ranging from coastal communities to companies involved in offshore oil production. This ability to achieve wide buy-in and commitment across stakeholders sets an important precedent for achieving effective and equitable marine resource management with long-term success.

We are proud to have been among the first supporters of the Gabon Bleu initiative, and encouraged by Gabon’s political will and leadership on terrestrial and marine conservation that will benefit wildlife and people for generations to come.

For additional information on our work in Gabon, please click here. To find out how we are working with emerging conservation leaders to conserve African manatees, please click here.