What LAGON BLEU is all about

The project "LAGON BLEU - Preservation of the marine and coastal ecosystem of Blue Bay and Pointe d'Esny", written by the NGO Eco-Sud, aims at contributing to the restoration of the ecological and biological integrity of the above site by:
  • sensitizing fishermen, tourist operators and coastal zones residents to the importance of marine biodiversity and to the protection of the marine ecosystem,
  • encouraging fishermen to preserve traditional fishing methods and local know-how so as to contribute to the conservation of species, thus contributing to sustainable fishing.

Context

The site of Blue Bay and Pointe d'Esny is situated to the south-east of Mauritius, not far from Mahébourg, between the two subdivisions of Grand Port Fishing Reserve.

The Blue Bay Marine Park has been declared as "National Park" in October 1997. It was next declared as "Marine Protected Area" and designated as "Marine Park" in June 2000.
The park occupies a marine zone of 352 hectares and hosts a large diversity of corals to which are associated rich and varied fauna and flora (mangroves, algae, sea weeds, fish and other marine organisms). At present 38 species of corals and 72 species of fish have been identified in the park. It is also because of its unique ecosystem of reefs and of the biological habitat linked to it that on 10th September 2008, Blue Bay marine park was officially classified as a Ramsar site for Mauritius.

Marine protected areas are specific zones intended for the protection of coastal ecosystems. As for Blue Bay marine park, legal regulations have been published but for various reasons have been only partly implemented or have proved insufficient in practice.

The project aims in particular at protecting the marine environment from biodiversity degradation in coastal marine ecosystems and coral reefs, a degradation which is linked mainly to human activities.

The threats which hang on this marine zone are mainly:

  • non recycled discharge (plastic waste, used lubricants, etc),
  • pollution (domestic and beach users)
  • mechanical or chemical destruction of the habitat of corals, fish and other marine species present on the site,
  • decrease in fish stock due for a great part to improper - even illegal - fishing practices, and to unscrupulous use of the lagoon and of the coastal zone by some tourist operators.
The site of the project, one of the most beautiful of Mauritius, is moreover a source of income in the Mauritian economy and needs therefore to be preserved. This project is an integral part of the ambitious "Maurice Ile Durable" concept.

Project justification

Meetings have been conducted with stakeholders and potential partners to the project "Lagon Bleu", namely fishermen, representatives from the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agro Industry, tourist operators and local residents. Numerous views were shared from which the following points emerged:

  1. The project site is characterized by a unique ecosystem which invites all stakeholders to have an active role to play in the protection and safeguard of that ecosystem which has become fragile.
  2. The ecological system and consequently coastal fishing are threatened by improper - even illegal - practices of users of the sea.
  3. Control over those users is insufficient, despite the existence of legal conditions for a balanced management of that zone.
Taking into account the above observations, the National Environmental Strategy and Action Plan, the "Programme régional de gestion durable des zones côtières des pays de l'Océan Indien", and the GEF SGP, Eco-Sud - an NGO which has acted for years for the protection and safeguard of the environment in Mauritius - has worked out this project. After consulting the above-named stakeholders, Eco-Sud has defined the actions which must be initiated as a matter of priority on the site to protect the marine ecosystem and traditional fishing practices.

Global objective of the project

To promote sustainable management of the marine and coastal zones of Blue Bay and Pointe d'Esny by sensitization to the conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity and of traditional fishing practices.

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