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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2002

No report was received from the State Party due by 1 February 2002. In February, IUCN was informed by the GTZ Project d’Appui Institutionnel et Technique au Parc National du Banc d’Arguin that an intergovernmental development cooperation consultation was held on the 17th-18th February 2002 to discuss the state of conservation of the Park.  The Mauritanian representative made reassurances that it would not permit research or exploitation of hydrocarbons that did not accord with the conservation of the Park, and that petroleum exploitation outside the Park will be dealt with within the existing regulatory framework. Concerning the road, experts from the GTZ project expressed concern that the potential consequences on the Park were not taken into account sufficiently in the impact study.  The Mauritanian representative requested assistance with an Environmental Impact Study. 


GTZ has informed IUCN that its study exploring the legality of oil exploitation in national parks in Mauritania and in particular Banc d’Arguin National Park, is due to be finalised by the end of April 2002.


IUCN also received reports on the European Union fishing fleet and its impact on the fisheries of West Africa. The Mauritanian fishing agreement with the EU is controversial, with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), fishermen’s organisations and environmental groups believing stocks will be seriously depleted and local fishermen heavily affected as a result of this agreement.


IUCN has received a copy of the draft UNEP Mauritanian case study (February 2002) prepared by the National Oceanographic and Fisheries Research Centre (CNROP) of Mauritania, entitled Environmental impact of trade liberalization and trade-linked measures in the fisheries sector.  The report notes that international trade liberalization has had impacts on reserves of certain marine species.


Key reasons for the decline are noted as: Permitting fish catches which are excessive in relation to potential resources; Illegal fishing practices; and negative impacts of various fishing agreements, including preferential treatment provided to international fishing fleets over local traditional fishing fleets.


IUCN notes that assistance with preparation of a full Environmental Impact Statement for the road between Nouadhibou and Nouakchott had previously been offered by the Government of the Netherlands in 2001, but the State Party had declined the offer as it had already completed it own study.  IUCN notes concerns have been expressed with the latter study, as information has been received that it was conducted without any consultation with other governmental services or with stakeholders. IUCN notes with extreme concern the pressures being exerted on the nation’s marine resources from international fishing fleets operating under existing agreements.  This is pushing the traditional fishermen to illegally exploit the Park’s resources, thus potentially compromising its principal function as a reproductive zone of the marine resources of Western Africa.   In relation to oil and gas exploration and exploitation in World Heritage sites, IUCN reiterates its view that mining should not be permitted within World Heritage sites. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 26 COM 21B.16

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Urges the State Party to undertake a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study for the road that complies with internationally recognized standards, in collaboration with interested donors; 

2. Notes the completion of the German International Cooperation (GTZ) study on the legality of oil exploration within the Park and requests that it be submitted to IUCN and the Centre for review;

3. Urges the State Party to develop and implement urgent measures to protect the Park, above all to guarantee the long-term regeneration of Mauritania's marine resources, in the face of the intense and unsustainable pressure on the nation's fisheries and to extend the areas exclusively reserved for traditional fishing; 

4. Encourages other States Parties to the Convention to comply with internationally recognized methods for sustainable exploitation of the fish stock in order to protect the resources of other State Parties, in accordance with the World Heritage Convention.