A perception-based participatory monitoring and evaluation approach to foster effective co-management of the marine protected areas in Northwest Africa
In Northwest Africa, the last two decades were characterized by the establishment of many marine protected areas (MPAs) that are considered to be major fisheries management tools. This politically motivated trend - to use for fisheries management a tool initially conceived for biodiversity conservation - emerged in a context of increasing degradation of the marine and coastal ecosystems combined with a generalized overexploitation of the main fish stocks in the Sub-Region. However, the commitment to promote MPAs neglected the necessity to regularly and effectively monitor and evaluate their effectiveness. Therefore, in 2013–2014 the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME) project supported the development of an experimental participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) approach for the Northwest African MPAs. This perception-based approach, which was implemented in two pilot MPAs in Senegal and Gambia, was then widely shared and discussed through several local meetings as well as in two regional and international workshops. This article aims to document the principles and outcomes of this experimental PM&E approach and also discuss its opportunities and challenges regarding to its potential adoption and use by MPA managers.