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Banc d'Arguin National Park

Factors affecting the property in 2001*
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Oil and gas
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Capture operation of the monk seal (issue resolved)
  •  A Rally, “Trophée des Gazelles - Rallye des Sables” traversed the area of the Park in 1997 (issue resolved)


International Assistance: requests for the property until 2001
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2001**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001

The issue of 23 June 2001 of the New Scientist included an article on Banc d’Arguin National Park.  Entitled “Breaking the Banc: Africa’s largest marine sanctuary is failing”, the article describes the threat to the Park’s fish stocks posed by ‘tens of thousands of traditional fishermen’ and ‘hundreds of giant foreign trawlers’ that fish at the edge of the Park boundary.  The article provided the example of the collapse of the Mauritanian mullet fishery in the early 1990’s following a twenty-fold increase in the catch.  The main harvesters were Senegalese fishermen, whose own mullet fisheries had collapsed, seeking to sell mullet roe to the European market. The article puts most blame on the large international trawlers, many of them European (the largest European vessel can hold 7,000 tonnes of fish and is dedicated full time to Mauritanian waters) who have the financial power to buy fishing rights from the Mauritanian Government.  It notes that the trawlers have displaced traditional fishermen who are placing greater pressure to be allowed inside the Park and World Heritage site.

The Centre and IUCN note the importance of working with traditional fishermen to help address their concerns. A vital element of effective management of the coastal zone is the protection of key ecosystems such as those within the World Heritage site.  The increasing involvement of international trawlers is a cause for grave concern as it can potentially negate such initiatives.

In September 2001 the Park reported to IUCN that two pre-exploration permits for petroleum exploration within the Park had been signed by the Government of Mauritania.  The Park is currently seeking to undertake an urgent assessment of the legal situation in Mauritania and its obligations under international conventions, including the World Heritage Convention, in order to halt the exploration and production permits.  It is seeking assistance to undertake this assessment.

The Park reports that the situation with the proposed road between Nouadhibou and Nouackchott, which will pass close to the boundary of the Park, remains inconclusive. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001
Reports on SOC of natural properties inscribed noted by the Committee


Reports on the state of conservation of natural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List noted by the Committee

Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

Fraser Island (Australia)

The Sundarbans (Bangladesh)

Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)

Gros Morne National Park (Canada)

Nahanni National Park (Canada)

Los Katios National Park (Colombia) 

Caves of the Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst (Hungary/Slovakia)

The Committee noted that the issues raised concern only the Slovak part of this transboundary site.

Sundarbans National Park (India) 

The Delegate of India informed the Committee that there is no National Waterways Project that is planned or likely to impact this site.

Kaziranga National Park (India)

Komodo National Park (Indonesia)

Lorentz National Park (Indonesia)

The Observer of Indonesia thanked the Australian authorities for their financial assistance. He informed the Committee that it would be difficult to comply with the deadline of 1 February and that a report could be provided by the end of March 2002.

Aeolian Islands (Italy)

The Observer of Italy confirmed that there was a court decision on 4 December 2001, which is not yet public, but that it is hoped to be available soon. She informed the Committee that the collaboration between the autonomous regional Government and the central Government has commenced and that a meeting will take place to find a solution. 

Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania)

The Delegate of Egypt brought to the attention of the Committee the importance of protecting the wetlands, which are known to be important rest places for the migratory birds along their routes. He suggested that the World Heritage Centre should have a plan defining the wetlands, which are important for the birds and to use this information for establishing "satellite" World Heritage sites. IUCN informed of the co-operation between the World Heritage Centre and the Ramsar Convention as well as with Bird Life International for the protection of the wetlands. He also highlighted the importance of the surrounding areas to the World Heritage sites and the links with the Man and Biosphere programme for the protection of the sites. The Secretariat informed of the on-going discussions with the Secretariat of the Convention of Migratory Species to establish a Memorandum of Understanding between these two Conventions.

Gunung Mulu National Park (Malaysia)

Sian Ka'an (Mexico)

The Delegate of Mexico informed that the confirmation of the Ecological Land-Use Plan is in its final phase and consequently she asked that the deadline for the report requested by the Bureau be set for 15 May 2002 for examination at the twenty-sixth session of the Committee in June.

Royal Chitwan National Park (Nepal)

Western Caucasus (Russian Federation)

Golden Mountains of Altai (Russian Federation)

Doñana National Park (Spain)

Sinharaja Forest Reserve (Sri Lanka)

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)

Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast (United Kingdom)

St Kilda (United Kingdom)

Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (United States of America)

Canaima National Park (Venezuela)


The Bureau may wish to adopt the following:

"The Bureau welcomes the recommendations of IUCN and requests a report from the State Party by 1 February 2002 for examination by the twenty-sixth session of the Bureau (April 2002).  This report should address the following issues:  the status of petroleum permits relating to oil exploration within the Park; threats to marine resources of the Park, and the status of the road between Nouadhibou and Nouackchott."

Report year: 2001
Date of Inscription: 1989
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 25COM (2001)

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.