1.         Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania) (N 506)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1989

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2004-2004)
Total amount approved: USD 35,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

21-28 September 2002  World Heritage Centre Consultative Mission; 20-29 June 2003: Consultative Mission to draw up an analysis of the documents concerning the Environmental Impact Assessment of the oil exploration being carried out by Woodside, an Australian oil company, in the area around the Banc d'Arguin Park; June 2004: joint World Heritage Centre/World Bank mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Oil exploration; Mechanical shellfish harvesting; Impact of the Nouakchott and Nouadhibou road (started in 2003); Structural, human, organisational and budgetary malfunctions of the institution responsible for the management of the PNBA;  Absence of any real ecotourism policy and strategy;  Poor progress recorded in the improvement of the living conditions of the local  populations.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2005

In reference to the Decisions of the the 28th session of the Committee (Suzhou, 2004), and following the request for technical assistance aimed at finalising the properties Development and Management Plan (DPM), a round table meeting of the PNBA's partners was organised by the World Heritge Centre in Paris on 29 and 30 November 2004.  The DPM for the Park, finalised in November 2004 was presented to all PNBA's partners at this round table meeting.  The DPM covers five themes: biodiversity conservation; coordination of scientific research; local (or community) development; the strategy on communication and the visibility of the institution; governance.

Several points in the DPM deserving improvement were identified and listed in the minutes of the round table discussions. 

Among the suggestions raised, the Centre drew the participants' attention to the possibility of envisaging the creation of a future Biosphere Reserve, including the PNBA and its Cap Blanc Satellite Reserve, as well as other adjacent territories, recognised as being of major importance in the relationship between man and natural resources.  A feasibility mission might take place, if the Mauritanian authorities so wish. 

Several partners intervened in the course of the meeting, in particular the representative of the World Bank and the Advisor of the Mauritanian Minister of Economic Affairs and Development.  They presented the Public Sector Capacity Building Project, one of whose sections will concern the environment and which could take the form of the setting up of a pilot project for which the PNBA would constitute a focal point.  Since this meeting, the Management of the PNBA has transmitted to the Centre the documents relating to the workshop on the institutional organisation for the Fiduciary Fund for the Banc d'Arguin National Park, which took place in Nouakchott from 23 to 25 March 2005.  In his report, the Manager of the PNBA also pointed out that a consultant was currently being recruited with a view to the drawing up of the "business" plan of the Development and Management Plan, which must be finalized by August 2005. 

Concerning the oil exploration issue, no documents have reached the Centre from the State Party.  The only document that the Centre was able to analyse in 2004 was the old EIA drawn up by Woodside, the Australian oil company, for the off-shore well known as "Chinguetti".  Since then, this same company has discovered another oil field three times larger than the previous one.  It must be emphasised that even the technical clauses of contracts signed by the State Party with all the oil companies remain confidential.  No information is known about the negotiations relating to compensation and to the solutions foreseen in the event of any accidental spillage of oil in the sea.  This is why it is necessary to insist on the drawing up of a request that the State Party must submit to the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization, which is responsible for measures aiming at improving the safety of international maritime transport and preventing pollution by ships, in order to obtain for the Banc d'Arguin Park the status of "Particularly Sensitive Sea Area" (PSSA).

The Centre was informed in April 2005 that another threat relating to mechanical shellfish harvesting may soon adversely affect the sustainable exploitation and integrated conservation of the marine resources and biodiversity in Mauritania. 

The draft information document prepared in March 2005 by experts from numerous international organisations including the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, the Netherlands Committee for IUCN and theIUCN Regional Office for West Africa, received from the Rapporteur of the round table discussions organised by the Centre in November 2004, gives a great deal of detail on the principle itself of mechanical shellfish harvesting, which destroys the sea beds and interferes with their ecological balance. 

World policies regarding mechanical shellfish harvesting are also presented in this document.  Several companies have attempted to obtain a Sustainable Management Certificate from the international organisation certifying sustainable fishing, the "Marine Stewardship Council" (MSC).  The MSC has refused to certify the Dutch company "Heiploeg Shellfish International" and its mechanical shellfish harvesting operations.  The document points out that the company is intending to operate in Mauritania and is financing, for the moment, aid provided by The Netherlands Institute for Fisheries Research (formerly RIVO) to Mauritania for the setting up of Mauritanian sanitary infrastructures for shellfish in accordance with European Union Directive  91/492/EEC of 15/07/91.

The State Party must urgently apply Law 2000/025 constituting the Fishing Code in Mauritania, which prohibits any use of dragnets in the Mauritanian exclusive economic zone, as well as approve the application decree for Law 2000/45 constituting the framework law on the environment.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 29 COM 7B.5

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,

2. Recalling its Decision 28 COM 15B.7, adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004),

3. Takes note of the intention of the State Party of Mauritania to draw up a Development and Management Plan (DPM) for the Banc d'Arguin Park (PNBA), whilst inviting the authorities concerned to set up management tools, which will be effective in the long term and form part of an initiative more centred on the "programme" approach;

4. Requests the State Party to complete, in coordination with the World Heritage Centre and all the Park's partners, the Development and Management Plan for the property, following the recommendations of the round table discussions organised by the World Heritage Centre in November 2004;

5. Urges the State Party to send to the World Heritage Centre, for its comments, all the documents concerning the Environmental Impact Assessment studies for the mining operations drawn up by all the oil companies operating in the area around the PNBA;

6. Calls upon the State Party to apply Law 2000/025 constituting the Fishing Code in Mauritania, which prohibits any use of dragnets in the Mauritanian exclusive economic zone, as well as to approve the application decree for Law 2000/45 constituting the framework law on the environment;

7. Reiterates its request to the State Party to sign the 1992 Conventions (2) allowing it to claim from the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPCF), as well as to submit a request to the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organisation, the specialized body responsible for the elaboration of standards aimed at improving the safety of international maritime transport and preventing pollution of the marine environment, in order to obtain for the Banc d'Arguin Park the status of "particularly sensitive sea area" (PSSA);

8. Invites the State Party to consider the creation of a biosphere reserve, including the PNBA and its Cap Blanc Satellite Reserve, as well as other adjacent territories, recognised as being of major importance in the relationship between man and natural resources;

9. Calls upon the State Party and the World Bank to integrate in the Public Sector Capacity Building Project, one of whose sections will concern the environment, a pilot project for which the PNBA would constitute a focal point;

10. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, before 1February 2006, a report on progress with the implementation of the abovementioned measures, which takes due account of the measures needed to alleviate the threats to the livelihood of the local population, for examination by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius,2006).

(2) The International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1992, and the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, 1992.