Sanctuaire Agoa

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a - Legal and policy framework (attach in Annex a copy of original texts, and indicate, if possible, the IUCN status)

National status of your protected area:

A public establishment dedicated to the protection of the marine environment

The French Marine Protected Area Agency is a public establishment of an administrative nature created by the law of 14 April 2006 and placed under the governance of the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport, and Housing.

The main assignements of the French Marine Protected Area Agency are :

  • supporting public policies for the creation and management of marine protected areas in the entirety of French maritime waters
  • running the MPA network
  • technical and financial support of natural marine parks
  • reinforcing French potential in international negotiations concerning the sea.

Agency Organisation and gouvernance

Its head office is in Brest (Finistère). It has branches in mainland France and overseas, outreach teams linked to natural Marine parks and park projects. Its government is exercised by an executive board on which other deliberating authorities are dependent (the Natural Marine Park management advisory councils and board) and a consultative instance (the Scientific Council).

Deliberating authorities

The executive board

The executive board is the main decision-making authority of the agency. Its members are appointed for three years. Its president is elected from within.
The executive board meeting of 25 February 2010 re-elected Jérôme BIGNON (Member of Parliament for the Somme), as president and Pierre-Georges DACHICOURT (President of the Comité National des Pêches Maritimes et des Élevages Marins) and Ferdy LOUISY (President of the Parc National de Guadeloupe), as vice-presidents.

This board is made up of two colleges (composition is defined in article R334-4):

  1. State representatives (16 members)
  2. elected members, users, and associations (23 members)

Article R334-8 of the environmental code defines its sphere of competence, which notably enables the executive board to define Natural Marine Park and Marine Protected Area management policies in its sphere of competence (creation, management, evaluation).
The executive board meets approximately 3 times per year.

The executive committee

Within the executive board there is an executive committee comprised of the executive board president, the vice presidents, a representative of the governing ministry, a representative of the ministry responsible for the sea, a representative of the ministry responsible for maritime fishing and marine farming, a representative of the ministry responsible for overseas departments, a representative of regional authorities, a president of the Natural Marine Park Management Council, a representative of another category of Marine Protected Area, the establishment employee representative, and another qualified person.
The committee prepares works, monitors the execution of executive board decisions, and exercises the powers given to by the executive board. It also meets approximately 3 times per year.

Natural Marine Park management councils: local governance

The natural Marine Park Management Council groups together the main local people involved representing the different users of the maritime area; maritime professionals and leisure users, environmental protection and cultural heritage associations, elected representatives, qualified celebrities, State departments, etc. The composition of the management council of each park is laid out by the decree concerning the creation of each park.
The objective of a park management council is to associate each of the people concerned to decisions relating to the sea and its management. This participative means of operating constitutes one of the original features of a natural marine park. In fact, the state is traditionally the only organisation competent at sea.
The management council is the decisional authority of the park. It draws up the management plan, a document specifying the park’s objectives over 15 years, action plans, means, and monitoring indicators of the classified maritime area to be put in place. The management council can issue simple or compliant opinions when activities are likely to have a notable effect on the Marine Park environment (article L 334 – 5 Environmental Code).
To put in place its policy, the management council has delegations of the executive board of the Agence Des Aires Marines Protégées, and the use of a team of agents and financial and technical means put in place by the agency.

Agency consultative authority

Scientific Council

The Scientific Council is consulted by the president of the executive board or the director of the agency for any question concerning all the assignments of the agency, including Natural Marine Parks.  (refer to article R 334-17 of the Environmental Code).
It is notably consulted concerning projects regarding the creation of Natural Marine Parks and their management plans.
The Scientific Council is made up of 10 people appointed by an order issued by the governing ministry due to their competence in the fields of protection, rehabilitation, or sustainable development of the natural marine heritage.
The president of the Scientific Council is Eric FEUNTEUN.

IUCN status (please tick the appropriate column if you know the IUCN category of your PA):


b - Management structure, authority


A strong involvement of the local communities of the French Antilles in the governance of the sanctuary
A shared governance
With the creation of the Agoa sanctuary, France and the four French communities demonstrate their commitment. The strong support demonstrated by the communities during the creation of the sanctuary, is continued by a common governance involving local political authorities, socio-professional associations and state departments in the governance of the Agoa sanctuary. A management committee of the sanctuary was established in July, 2012. Composed of local players from Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy (political, associational, economic, scientific, administrative), the committee will be responsible for recommending measures to protect and conserve species and their habitats over the entire EEZ of the French Antilles.

Similarly the coordination and management of AGOA involves active participation of all including sea users and the general public. A provision of the means necessary for supervision of the sanctuary as part of the "State action in the Sea."
A necessary regional and international approach
Conservation and management issues of marine mammals, transcend national boundaries, due to their high mobility and migration. A regional and international approach are needed. Since its creation, Agoa has been presented under the sign of the opening to forge cooperative links with existing and new sanctuaries in the Caribbean. To do this the Agency is working closely with the Regional Activity Centre for the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife of the Caribbean (SPAW RAC) which has developed an action plan for the conservation of marine mammals in the Caribbean region.

The main objectives are:
- support the establishment of protected areas in the Caribbean region in particular "corridors", breeding areas and nurseries attended by a species or group of species of marine mammals. Some countries have already demonstrated their commitment to this process (Dominican Republic, the Netherlands under the Dutch Antilles).
- deepen the technical and scientific cooperation between sanctuaries which are visited by marine mammal throughout their migratory route. To this end, a joint declaration was adopted at the second international conference on marine mammals held in Martinique in November 2011. It has also celebrated the twinning of Agoa and the US sanctuary of Stellwagen Bank.

c - Functional management body (with the authority and means to implement the framework)

Description of the management authority


The French MPA Agency is represented in the French Antilles by its local branch, based in Guadeloupe, the National Park.
The team of the French Antilles
The Agency is, by convention, represented by the Director of the National Park of Guadeloupe, main MPA sector.
The team consists of two people:
     Denis GIROU, Head of thr local branch of the French MPA Agency
     Nicolas Maslach, head of Agoa sanctuary for marine mammals in the French Antilles

Means to implement the framework


The activities of the local branch of the French Antilles are organized around four main areas:
- The Agoa marine mammal sanctuary
- Activities related to the network of marine protected area in the region: meetings, events, funding. These actions are carried out with support from project coordinators located at the Agency headquarters in Brest. They are financed from non-regionalised budgets.
Based on the regional strategic analysis conducted by the French MPA Agency in partnership with the National Park of Guadeloupe and the University of the West Indies and French Guiana, the branch is supporting the development of the network.

- Scientific, cooperation and awareness activitieswhich could be intesreting for the Caribbean region. These actions are carried out with support from project coordinators located at the Agency headquarters in Brest. They are financed by non-regionalised budgets. These actions of regional cooperation are under the framework of the protocols signed (SPAW RAC, NOAA, etc.).
- Representational activities of the Agency in the region or in regional cooperation. They are financed by non-regionalised budgets in liaison with the Agency management. These cooperative operations are conducted primarily through the network of protected areas under SPAW, or cooperative actions of the protocol (for example, the action plan for marine mammals.

d - Objectives (clarify whether prioritized or of equal importance)

Objective Top priority Comment
Improve knowledge on protected areas and species No In order to implement concrete actions, it is essential to fully understand the species present in the sanctuary, and the threats they face. For this it is necessary to continue scientific monitoring implemented during recent years. PROMOTE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH Management actions: implement the means necessary for the periodic assessment of: -the status of marine mammal populations -the state of human pressures and ascertain or potential threats on marine mammals in the sanctuary.
Control human impacts on protected areas and species No Control human activities that can have ascertain or potential negative impact on areas and threatened species, such as shipping, fishing, whale watching ... PRIORITY: - The seismic research and other activities using acoustics - The use of fishing gear which may result in the capture of marine mammals - The competitions of fast craft engines - Maritime transport and other travel motorized boats - Any other activity likely to prejudice the welfare of marine mammals and integrity of their population.
Preserve animals/plants and key/endangered habitats No Implementation of supporting measures and regulatory measures
Strengthen regional cooperation No Further foster partnerships established with various regional institutions and NGOs; Partner with other sanctuaries under the auspices of the Cartagena Convention and its SPAW Protocol (Stellwagen, Silver Bank sanctuary and the future of the Netherlands Antilles). This cooperation will do as well on the scientific, economic and cultural.
Prevent, reduce and control priority pollution (see Cartagena Convention) No 1. Intensify the fight against all forms of pollution from maritime or land or who may have a direct or indirect impact on marine mammals conservation. 2. Eliminate the discharges of toxic compounds in the sanctuary on the priority substances as listed in Annex 1 of the Protocol on pollution sources and land-based activities of the Cartagena Convention PRIORITY POLLUTION : - Pollution caused by discharges from ships - Pollution by dumping of wastes/oils from ships, aircraft or manmade structures at sea - Pollution caused by discharges from shore or from rivers, estuaries, coastal establishments, outfall of, or from any other sources within their territories.

e - Brief description of management plan (attach in Annex a copy of the plan)


1 - Campaigns : biannual transect lines and acoustic samples:
- Study the evolution of the estimated numbers in the sanctuary,
- Identify the number of individuals during migration periods,
- Inform on the population dynamics
- Study the evolution of the abundance and distribution
2 - Genetic monitoring campaign (biopsy) and movement of individuals (tags).
3 - Program of photo-identification of individuals to describe their site fidelity (humpback whales, sperm whales ...).
4 - Characterization of habitat favorable for marine mammals,
5 - Acoustic monitoring (including buoys), identification of marine mammals and noise.
6 - Continuous assessment of interactions with human uses (bycatch, depredation, water activities, pollution, noise, etc. ..)

1 - Definition of an intervention network for animals in distress, entangled and/or stranded,
2 – Definition/support/guidance of an intervention network for prevention of pollution, pollution control, and followed post-pollution,
3 - Support and assistance for projects aiming at conserving and restoring habitats likely to receive marine mammals,
4 - Support for tourism operators in an eco-responsible approach,
5 - Support for the production of scientific studies and scientific articles,
6 - Expertise and advice to project developers for impact assessments,
7 - Support/Training for MPA managers of the French Antilles and the Caribbean islands for the observation, identification and intervention in case of distress and strandings
8 - Support the targets of the chlordecone plan,
9 - Support/search for innovative devices intended to limit the impact of human activities on marine mammals
10 - Promotion of the sanctuary at regional level, of its work, its governance, organization...


1 - Pooling of resources of the State action at sea, of the services and operators of the state and of the network of MPAs for:
- Establishment/strengthening control over the disturbance and harassment of cetaceans,
- Strengthening control on the degradation of natural areas and seascapes that can have adverse effects on habitats of marine mammals,
- Awareness of stakeholders to approach techniques
- Promoting respect of the Order of July 1st 2011
- Establishment of outreach and educational tools (website, code of conduct, activities, exhibitions, forums)

As recommended by the statement:
1 - Regulate:
- Activities of whale watching,
- Seismic research and other activities using acoustics,
- The use of fishing gear which may result in the capture of marine mammals,
- Offshore competition, nautical events,
2 - Supervise:
- Shipping,
- The establishment of a network "alert : stranded and distressed animals" throughout the French Antilles

Management plan - date of publication

: 7/20/12

Management plan duration

: 5

Date of Review planned

: 7/20/17