Monitoring and conservation of aquatic megafauna
Of the seven known species of marine turtles, four (04) including the olive ridley turtle, the leatherback turtle, the hawksbill turtle and the green turtle are found along the 402 km of the Cameroonian coast (Formia et al. 2003). Nestings of olive and leatherback turtles have been recorded on Batoke and Bakingili beaches with low hatching success. This low success is attributed to poaching of females and eggs and potentially to the texture and structure of the beaches. Sightings of hawksbill and green turtles prompted AMMCO to initiate monitoring of this habitat. Thanks to the monitoring of the seabed using the aquatic drone, the sonar and the waterproof cameras carried by the fishermen-divers, we were able to identify important seagrass beds which are feeding sites for sea turtles on the west coast of Cameroon.
The Siren network reported eight species of cetaceans including direct sightings, strandings and incidental captures in artisanal and industrial fishing nets. In order to promote their protection, the AMMCO is intensifying monitoring on board research vessels and observers are placed on fishing vessels to document observations and provide assistance in the event of accidental capture.
Of the 39 species of elasmobranchs documented, 11 are found at the critical level in the IUCN Red List. The species Mobula rochebrunei was rediscovered after 62 years. Elasmobranchs are threatened by overfishing and habitat destruction on the Cameroonian coasts. Monitoring actions at landing sites, observers on board fishing boats and molecular genetic analyzes have been initiated. Environmental education and awareness campaigns as well as livelihood diversification of fishing communities are ongoing. In addition, AMMCO has undertaken the synergy of actors through the Street Whale. Actors from various sectors will now meet annually to discuss issues of sustainable management of Cameroon's marine and coastal resources. During the first edition in 2021, the issues of marine protected areas, IUU fishing, marine pollution and coastal erosion were discussed and led to the formulation of recommendations to improve the conservation of marine biodiversity and promote the well-being of people who depend on it.