Somaliland initiates its First Marine Protected Area

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On March 15-16, the Zeila Co-Management Association, the Somaliland Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development, and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change came together with partners to plan the creation of Somaliland’s first Marine Protected Area (MPA). Secure Fisheries hosted the workshop that included Zeila CMA,  Blue Ventures, Candlelight, the UN FAO and UN Environment Programme, and local members of the fisheries private sector. Workshop participants discussed the scientific and legal foundations needed to design an effective MPA in the waters near Zeila.

Last year, the Zeila CMA proposed the creation of an MPA as part of its community-led fisheries management efforts. The MoLFD and MECC support MPA design as part of their strategic plans. When launched, the MPA will provide protection for coral reef and mangrove ecosystems while conserving valuable fish stocks for local fishers. The goal of the MPA will be to balance environmental protection with access to fish stocks for livelihood support.

The waters around Zeila have been designated as a Key Biodiversity Area due to high fish productivity, rich coral reef systems, islands that support migratory bird populations, and vibrant mangrove forests. However, a lack of fisheries management and unregulated fishing by foreign vessels poses a potential threat to fisheries health. The Zeila CMA, created in 2020, is partnering with Secure Fisheries and this wider partner consortium to co-design an MPA intended to support artisanal fisheries while providing the level of environmental protection needed for ecosystem integrity, ecotourism, and long-term resilience.

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