Past, present and future perspectives

Enhancing coastal and marine environmental quality in Northern Africa

The most significant response from governments in Northern Africa to combat pollution of all types has been the establishment of the organization for the Protection of the Environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA). The purpose and achievements of PERSGA are detailed in Box 2c.1. Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, its main function is to implement the Regional Convention for the Conservation of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Environment (Jeddah Convention).

Box 2c.1 Protection of the environment in the Red Sea

Recognizing the need for international cooperation in marine and coastal management in Northern Africa, an interdisciplinary research programme for the Red Sea was initiated, in 1974, under the auspices of the UNEP Regional Seas Programme. Following from this, an Action Plan for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden was approved (1976). In 1982, the Jeddah Convention for the Conservation of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Environment was signed, along with the Protocol for Regional Cooperation in Combating Pollution by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency. Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen are parties to the Convention. In 1995, the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA) was formally established to implement the objectives of the Convention and its protocol. Achievements to date include environmental assessments of the coast and surveys of natural habitat, collection of oceanographic data, impact assessments of shrimp and pearl industries, training workshops in combating oil pollution, environmental impact assessments, ICZM, and establishment of a marine national park. Publications include state of the environment reports, directories of capacities and legislation and an assessment of the land-based sources and activities affecting the marine and coastal environment.


Source: PERSGA 2000

The Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) was adopted in Barcelona, Spain, in 1975, by 16 Mediterranean States and the European Community, under the auspices of UNEP and within the framework of its Regional Seas Programme. The aim of MAP is to protect the environment while encouraging sustainable development in the Mediterranean Basin. It has six associated protocols covering coastal zone management, pollution assessment and control, protection of ecosystems and preservation of biodiversity. MAP was revised in 1995 to become more action-oriented and an instrument for sustainable development. Activities to date include gathering of pollution-trend data and compliance monitoring, the establishment of a list of Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance and related programmes for protection and conservation of species, and regulation of the introduction of non-indigenous or genetically modified species. The MAP Coastal Areas Management Programme is a mechanism for enhancing cooperation between national and local authorities and institutions-13 projects have been implemented since 1989. A Mediterranean Environment and Development Observatory has also been established to provide information to support decision making (UNEP 2001).

There are two Marine Protected Areas (MPA) along the Gulf of Aqaba, and there is a proposal for additional protected areas. In the northern Red Sea, there are three MPAs which need support through further strengthening of regulations, and proposals for new protected areas. There is only one protected area in the Dahlak Islands (in the south-eastern Red Sea), recognized as forming unique habitats that are under increasing pressure from tourism and oil transportation. There are 14 coastal protected areas and 5 marine areas along the Mediterranean coast of Northern Africa. There are no MPAs in the Gulf of Suez and the only one proposed covers only a portion at the southern end of the Gulf. There are proposals for a much wider network of protected areas all along the coast. Overall, the standards of protection on both the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts are below those afforded by protected area mechanisms. In line with the shifting paradigm of environmental management-away from protection and towards responsible and sustainable development- Egypt Morocco and Tunisia have taken steps to develop and implement ICZM plans. However, as these are recent measures, few conclusive studies have been undertaken to measure their progress.