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: USD 150,000  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 2018

On 30 November 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/documents/, providing the following information:

The State Party has continued to implement the recommendations of the 2014 Reactive Monitoring mission, by:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The State Party has employed major efforts in responding to the decisions of the Committee and the recommendations of the 2014 mission, notably the continued involvement of local communities in the management and conservation of the property, the strengthening of the surveillance and control system, the preparation of a master plan to manage mobility in the property and the establishment of a system to limit fishing by non-resident persons. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to pursue these efforts.

The efforts from the State Party concerning the designation of the property and its surroundings as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) are noted. The World Heritage Centre’s Marine Programme has provided a continuous assistance for the PSSA dossier, including cooperation with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the participation in the national stakeholder working meeting in November 2017. A technical study on the risks of international maritime traffic and the ways a PSSA and its associated protective measures could reduce this risk is first to be completed. The Committee could encourage the State Party to pursue, in cooperation with IMO, the technical feasibility study for a potential PSSA designation before submitting a final application dossier. 

With regard to oil exploration, the EAS for the seismic study of Block C7 acknowledges the proximity of the property (10 km from Block C7 and 55 km from the seismic study zone) as well as its World Heritage status. Although a specific evaluation of the impacts of the project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property has not been carried out, no direct impact has been recorded within the property. However, the EAS highlights the probability of moderate impacts on some species of shellfish and proposes mitigation measures. The EAS also recognizes that the ocean currents have a tendency to pull the deep offshore waters back into the Gulf d’Arguin, which could present risks to the property if the project procedes with exploitation. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure the enforcement of mitigation measures during the exploitation phase to avoid all indirect impact on the OUV of the property; in the event that the State Partty progresses to the exploitation phase, a new EAS will be indispensable before beginning of the potential work.

Concerning the EAS for the extension of the Tasiast gold mine, dated March 2012, no evaluation on the impact on the OUV of the property has been undertaken, even although the property is located at 65 km from the mining site and less than 5 km from the pumping field that provides the water needs for the exploitation and drinking water for the mine. This EAS therefore does not represent an adequate information base to take decisions concerning the extension of the mine and it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to revise it, before taking any decision on the project, to evaluate the impacts on the OUV of the property, in conformity with the IUCN Advice Note on World Heritage and environmental evaluation.

The measures undertaken to protect the threatened species are warmly welcomed. In particular, the commitment of the State Party to establish by 2020 a strict interdiction to fish shark and ray. A study annexed to the State Party report indicates that the proportion of shark and ray capture has decreased since 2013, now representing on average 27% of the overall fishing activity of the property. However, fishing of other species is on the increase.

Although the State Party reassures that the fisheries in and around the property are sustainable, pressure on fishing must be the subject of continued monitoring to ensure the sustainability and conservation of the OUV of the property.

It is recommended that the Committee takes note of the launching, foreseen in 2018, of the SEA for the town of Chami and that it reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that in addition to this SEA, prior to all development, the town of Chami is the subject of a rigorous EAS which is submitted to the Banc d’Arguin National Park (PNBA) for agreement, as recommended by the mission.

It is also recommended that the Committee congratulate the State Party on the establishment and strengthening of a permanent concertation committee,that includes the administrative and municipal, regional and communal authorities. It is also recommended that the Committee express its concern as regards the relocation project of villages threatened by the effect of climate change, the implementation of which, in the framework of the PDALM, is foreseen in 2018, and for which the State Party has made no reference. Detailed information concerning this project is necessary.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.98

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.85, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Warmly welcomes the efforts made by the State Party to implement the decisions of the Committee and the recommendations of the 2014 Reactive Monitoring mission and requests the State Party to continue these efforts;
  4. Also warmly welcomes the establishment and strengthening of a permanent concertation committee that includes the administrative and municipal, and regional and communal authorities, as well as the measures undertaken to protect the threatened species, notably the commitment of the State Party to set up by 2020, the strict interdiction of shark and ray fishing and requests the State Party to continue monitoring pressure on fishing, both inside and outside the property, to ensure the sustainability and conservation of its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  5. Equally welcomes the organization of the PSSA national stakeholder working meeting, thanks the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for its support, and encourages the State Party to pursue, in cooperation with IMO, the finalization of the technical feasibility study of a potential PSSA designation before submitting a final application dossier;
  6. Takes note of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the oil exploitation project (seismic study) of Block C7 adjacent to the property and its conclusion that no direct impact has been detected within the property and also requests the State Party:
    1. to ensure the enforcement of mitigation measures to avoid all indirect impact on the OUV of the property during the exploration phase of the project,
    2. to undertake a new EIA in the event that the State Party progresses to the exploitation phase, and this before the potential work, taking into account the ocean currents that tend to pull the deep offshore waters back into the Gulf d’Arguin,
    3. to submit the said EIA to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it is available for examination by IUCN;
  7. Takes into account the location of the pumping fields for the Tasiast mine less than 5 km from the boundary of the property and the fact that the EIA for the mine extension project did not include any evaluation of the impacts on the OUV of the property, further requests the State Party to revise this EIA to evaluate the impacts of the projects on the OUV of the property, prior to any possibly irreversible decisions taken, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Notice and Environmental Evaluation;
  8. Also takes note of the launching, foreseen during 2018, of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the town of Chami, and reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that, in addition to the SEA, prior to any development in the town of Chami, a rigorous EIA be carried out and submitted for approval to the Banc d’Arguin National Park (PNBA);
  9. Expresses its concern as to the relocation project for the villages threatened by the effects of climate change, the implementation of which is foreseen in 2018, in the framework of the Mauritanian Coastal Area Management and Development Plan (PDALM), and also urges the State Party to provide detailed information concerning this project;
  10. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.