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

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: 150,000 USD in the framework of the World Heritage Centre's Marine Programme

Previous monitoring missions

2002, 2003, 2004, 2013: World Heritage Centre missions; 2014: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

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 2016

On 15 December 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which responds to the recommendations of the Reactive Monitoring mission report undertaken in January 2014. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/documents/.

To address the many cross-cutting issues that concern the property, the national World Heritage Committee has been enlarged to include all relevant ministries (Territorial Administration, Fisheries, Mining, Land-use Planning, Environment, Works and Transportation, Tourism, Agriculture, etc.). The operational management of the property has been transferred from Nouakchott to the new town of Chami, which borders the property. A new Land Use and Management Plan (2015-2019) for the Banc d'Arguin National Park (PNBA) has been developed through a participatory process.

The State Party addresses all of the 18 recommendations of the Reactive Monitoring mission in a very detailed, positive and inclusive manner. Specific progress reported has been:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The effort undertaken to address and implement the recommendations of the 2014 mission is commendable. However, some issues still require clarification.

The 2014 mission noted that fishing in the property had become more and more commercial with an increase in catch and the targeting of certain ray and shark species, as well as an issue of overfishing in waters outside the property. The State Party states that landings of sharks and rays are declining. However, it notes that this decline could be due to boats moving to other sites, such as Teichott, Iwik and R’Gueiba, reducing fishing pressure from Arkeiss in particular. Data provided by the State Party indicates catch levels of sharks and rays equaling those of 1997 (when the problem really started). While it is clear that efforts are being undertaken to ensure that fishing remains at sustainable levels and that key species such as sharks, rays and turtles are protected, the need to put in place a permit system in order to prevent fishing pressure related to the immigration of non-resident communities which have come to fish, and to clarify whether fishing by the local communities within the park should be commercialized has not been addressed. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to fully implement the recommendations made by the mission in that regard.

The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the Road to Nouamghar (dated 2013) submitted by the State Party stresses the social needs for the road, to improve accessibility to the community of Nouamghar. While it is welcome that efforts are being put into place to mitigate the negative effects that the Nouamghar road may engender, the impact of the road on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property has not been assessed. Clear measures on how to mitigate this impact (including restricting use and controlling access to the property), need to be undertaken urgently.

It is noted by the State Party that all new development at the new town of Chami will require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), but there is no indication on what sort of development is anticipated. Therefore, and to enable the State Party to identify measures to avoid and where necessary mitigate impacts on the OUV of the property from any development at Chami, it is recommended to request the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of all planned and anticipated developments at Chami, including an assessment of impacts on the OUV of the property, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment. It is noted that a tourism study is planned.

Further development of the Tasiast gold mine appears still to be on hold.  Progress on the MARPOL plan to respond to potential future oil spills is ongoing, however no information on oil exploration or exploitation developments in the marine areas having a direct influence on the property is provided.  Any future developments at the Tasiast gold mine and for off-shore oil exploitation should be subject to EIAs, including a specific assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property, in line with the above-mentioned IUCN’s Advice Note.

It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to fully implement all the recommendations of the 2014 mission.

In March 2016, the World Heritage Centre organized a workshop on local communities’ involvement in the management and conservation of World Heritage sites in the Arab Region in Nouakchott and Banc d’Arguin, with the active participation of the Imraguen local community. During the workshop, the PNBA demonstrated its efforts in engaging local communities in the management of the property. The Imraguen community representatives requested to further enhance their accessibility to the property and improve their housing conditions.

The World Heritage Centre’s Marine Programme has provided continuous assistance for the PSSA dossier, including the participation of Mauritanian delegations to meetings at the International Maritime Organization, the involvement of experts to assist with the development of technical documents, and translation (https://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1284/).

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.85

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.62, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Welcomes the progress made on implementing the recommendations of the 2014 joint Reactive Monitoring mission, as well as towards the application for the Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) designation of the property and its surrounding areas and encourages the State Party to pursue its efforts to submit a completed application to the International Maritime Organization in February 2017;
  4. Encourages the State Party to continue involving the local communities in the management and conservation of the property;
  5. Notes that no oil or mining exploration permits are attributed within the property and that the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) plan is in process, but expresses its concern about potential impacts if any of the ongoing exploration projects lead to exploitation, in particular, in oil blocks close to the property;
  6. Requests the State Party to ensure that all future projects that could impact on the property are subject to an assessment of their impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN:
    1. A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of developments at Chami, in order to identify measures to avoid and where necessary mitigate impacts on the OUV of the property,
    2. EIAs for any future developments at the Tasiast gold mine and for off-shore oil exploitation;
  7. Also requests the State Party to provide data on local and non-local use of the Nouamghar road collected by the new control points to ascertain that the road is not impacting on the OUV, in particular marine resources, of the property;
  8. Further requests the State Party to fully implement all recommendations made by the 2014 mission, in particular:
    1. Ensure the sustainability of the current suveillance system, and maintain the ban on fishing by the non-Imraguen communities, and on fishing by motorized boats,
    2. In consultation with scientific organisations and the Imraguen local communitiy, address the problem of fishing of endangered species (sharks and rays) in order to guarantee their conservation; additional studies to identify any pressures on populations of turtles (reproductive and migratory) within the park also desirable,
    3. Put in place a permit system in order to prevent fishing pressure related to the immigration of non-resident communities which have come to fish,
    4. Undertake research to determine the effects of overfishing outside the property on the biodiversity located within the property, and reinforce measures to ensure the sustainability of fisheries located outside the property but in Mauritanian waters, in particular through regional and international cooperation;
  9. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.