Participants at the Sepanguy Protected Areas Symposium in October, 2014 in French Guiana reiterated the call for the Guiana Shield Facility (GSF) to explore a marine protected area focus.
During the symposium, experts on marine mammals from the Guiana Shield countries participated in a roundtable discussion to examine "how to identify key marine areas and how to create marine protected areas."
The Participants posited that the Mamacocosea initiative should be considered as the backbone of the regional process to lead a marine protected areas (MPA) focus in the Guiana Shield.
It was also suggested that when working on MPA, it is important to keep in mind the ecological notions, ecological functioning and ecological connectivity.
Further, the marine experts emphasized that specific coastal dynamic needs to be properly considered, as key marine areas can evolve in time and space, and so should conservation tools. They noted that proper strategic MPA planning could be defined at a regional scale, and under a holistic approach.
In order to set priorities, it was suggested to demarcate biodiversity hotspots as a first filter and then to include species-based issues as a second criterion. The seasonality of the biodiversity richness should be included into the process, when possible.
Moreover, the participants agreed that regional cooperation is important, but some difficulties exist. Former initiatives were sometimes not successful. Thus, small-scaled, well targeted activities can be useful as ambitious initiatives can take significant time to become real.
It is against this backdrop that participants explained that to effectively manage the MPA, there must be an interdisciplinary approach. It was on this premise that the participants reiterated the call for the GSF to take the lead to include a marine focus in its work.
This call was initially made during the regional meeting on transboundary management of marine mammals held in Suriname from 18- 20 March, 2013. The meeting was hosted under the Marine Mammal Conservation Corridor for Northern South America (MAMACOCOSEA) Project which is being used as a tool for implementing the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife Protocol (SPAW-RAC) Marine Mammal Action Plan (MMAP).
Further, another call was made in the Guiana Shield Bogotá Declaration under Resolution 5 - calls for exploring the possibility of expanding the scope of the GSF to include a marine protected areas focus for the Guiana Shield.
The Bogotá Declaration will be the basis for consolidating the institutional arrangements for the GSF, identifying its programmatic niche within the whole of the Amazon, expanding its ecological focus from landscape to seascape, and giving direction to its work.
A recent report published by Claire Pusineri, Scientific Director of the Association of Ocean Science and Logistics (OSL) revealed that marine mammals are threatened by several human activities, such as catches in fishing nets, coastal water quality degradation, and the development of oil activities since the early 2000s.
As such, efforts should be doubled to ensure the protection and conservation of marine mammals in the Guiana Shield. The GSF remains committed to working with all stakeholders throughout the Guiana Shield to ensure that the protection of marine mammals remains top priority.