Sanctuaire Agoa

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Present briefly the proposed area and its principal characteristics, and specify the objectives that motivated its creation :

Encompassing 59 square miles of ocean, Agoa Sanctuary is located in the eastern Caribbean Sea.

The sanctuary is designed  to ensure the conservation of marine mammals in waters under French sovereignty and jurisdiction in the  French West Indies.  These include the territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ’s) surrounding Martinique, Guadeloupe and its dependencies of Marie Galante, the Saints Archipelago, la Desirade, Petite Terre, as well as those of  St. Barthelemy and St. Martin.

The Caribbean Sea is a special habitat for feeding, reproduction and migration of marine mammals. Twenty-four species have been identified in the French Antilles waters.

With the creation of Agoa Marine Mammals Sanctuary, France wanted to contribute to make a model of the Caribbean region for the marine mammals protection and the sustainable development. The EEZ of the French Antilles are now an area of dialogue between all the stakeholders in order to set up an harmonious model of development and of conservation of the marine mammals critical habitats Agoa is based on an innovative governance system bringing together the local governments of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélémy Islands and their environmental departments, the French MPA Agency,the French Ministry of Environment, the socio-economic partners, environmental NGOs but as well University and scientific bodies.

Explain why the proposed area should be proposed for inclusion in the SPAW list

Today hunting is no longer practiced in French waters, but other threats have taken place on these fragile ecologically species: increase in maritime traffic, noise pollution, chimical and oil pollution of the marine environment, degradation of the habitats...

The current legislation includes prohibition, destruction, mutilation, capture, intentional removal, transport or trade in marine mammals.

The objective of the sanctuary is to ensure the conservation of marine mammals, within the framework of a harmonious co-existence with human activities.

Within the sanctuary, adequate review and provisions will be made with regard to activities such as marine mammal observation, seismic research and other acoustic activities, motor boat races, maritime transports, the use of fishing gear that can lead to the capture of marine mammals and any other activity likely to prejudice the welfare of marine mammals or the integrity of their populations such as land and sea born pollution as well as toxins. Information, awareness and education programmes will be implemented for professionals and other sea users so that they can know more about the Sanctuary and its whales and dolphins.

In addition, the Agoa sanctuary will represent an opportunity for economic and touristic development thanks to the positive image which it will convey in the islands of the Caribbean and to the development of eco-tourism to observe the cetaceans, practiced with respect to animals. Lastly, it will be an opportunity to increase the knowledge and sensitize the young generations to the marine environment.

The success of Agoa also depends on regional co-operation, the sanctuary wanting to be extended to other States of the Caribbean which would like to join the initiative, in order to be able to manage the corridors of migration and distribution surfaces of the Cetacea, whose populations are common to several countries.

According to you, to which Criteria it conforms (Guidelines and Criteria B Paragraph 2)

Conservation value
Critical habitats

Cultural and socio-economic criterias

Socio-economic benefits