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by Mundus maris Club Senegal

All is well what ends well. This can certainly be said of the enduring efforts to produce teaching aids about the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF), which Mundus maris helped to develop together with teachers and school inspectors in Senegal and Gambia. This was part of pilot activities of the FAO's Nansen Project led by Dr. Kwame Koranteng.

A batch of the French versions of the teacher's guide and pupil's workbooks have been delivered through the FAO office in Dakar in March for distribution to promote the use of the approach in ordinary education and beyond. Mundus maris has accepted to help with the dissemination.

One of the first points of call was Mr. Malick Soumaré, Head of the Division "Private education" in the national Education Ministry, who has followed through the exercise from its beginnings of field research in 2011.

Because of the great potential of the approach and the interest in making it as widely available as possible, Mr. Soumaré wants collaboration with Mundus maris and other organisations working to promote greater environmental awareness as part of the school curricula in Senegal. He believes that the teaching kit is a valuable support for teachers.

Several chance meetings with other experts at the Ministry were helpful in drawing attention to the teaching kit and promoting its wider use. Dr. Mamadou Niane works at the ECOWAS Coastal and Marine Resources Management Centre located in the University of Ghana, Accra, and serves as technical expert for the Project "Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa" (MESA). He was very interested in the approach and the teaching kit as breaking down scientific and technical knowledge in easily understandable form for pupils and other non-specialists has been a long-term concern of his.

Likewise, Mr. Sylla, teacher in a school in the Département de Oussouye / Casamance, in Southern Senegal was excited to learn about the teachinig kit.

With limited numbers of the kit currently available, the main effort is, obviously directed at making it available to as many teachers as possible, particularly in coastal towns and villages, foremost those who have been involved in the early development stages of the material. Among these is also Doudou Ndiaye, Deputy Director of the Santa Yalla School in Rufisque, who engaged in follow-up even though his school was not formally part of the pilot activities.

Not by accident, Mundus maris is also bringing the kit to the attention of some leaders of fishing communities, starting with Hann just outside the capital Dakar.

During other field work last year about the fisherfolk's attitude on the attempts to reform the sector policy, many interviewees already had indicated interest in learning more about marine ecosystems and species they are less familiar with. In early May 2016, with the participation of partnering school directors, like Doudou Ndiaye and Magueth Diop, Director of the Khadim School in Hann, we visited the local committee of the National Collective of Artisanal Fishers (CNPS), where we met with two fishermen leaders: Ibrahima Niang, President of the landing site in Hann and heading the Resources Commission of the Local Artisanal Fisheries Committee (CLPA), and Mr. Malouma Niang, President of the CLPA Hann. They were actually quite interested in the teaching kit and also engaged other people in the conversation: namely Bina Diop, artist and theatre teacher specialising in working with children, Ibrahima Sall of the NGO "Hann Environment", Abdoulaye Fall and Moustapha Mbaye as members of the Mundus maris Club.

The image about the trophic network in particular generated many questions between the fishermen and also between them and the others. The responsible people of the CLPA concluded that it would be worthwhile to hold a workshop for fishers to explain the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. As Aliou Sall of Mundus maris started commenting the negative impacts of overfishing on the integrity of the entire ecosystem, several fishers made the connection with the spike of triggerfish species (Balistes) in the 1980s. They also noted that what they called a "clandestine" fish, which many fishers did not know at all, was making an important showing in landings in the last four months. The general feeling was that the topic would be ideally suited for the Forum planned as part of World Oceans Day celebrations in 2016.

Watch this space for more!

The Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries in the region of Saint Louis, Senegal

Primary School Hydrobase is committed to the popularisation of the teaching kit

In August 2016, we were contacted by Mr. Assane Gueye, fisherman and notable in the area called "Hydrobase". The fisherman who is also president of the parents' association of the primary school bearing the name of this district, has repeatedly expressed his interest in the advocacy work that Mundus maris realised in recent years towards fishing communities, and school children in particular. During one of our meetings in St. Louis in the community of Guet Ndar, he said, we quote:

"We want our children to go to school and do not stop in the middle of primary or secondary education. All children can not become fishermen, because the fishing capacity has reached a point where this activity gives little opportunities for very young people. Fishing is our tradition, but a part of our children needs to go to school and try to excel in areas, including the sciences. In the Guet Ndar neighbourhood from which we all come, it is unfortunate that the majority of young children who have a lot of potential to succeed in the most advanced sectors are forced out of school to be drafted too young into fishing. We have a challenge to Hydrobase: it is to preserve our tradition as fishermen, but also to offer the opportunity to those of our children who have the capabilities to do something else in life."

Some readers might remember that it is this same fisherman, who has facilitated various meetings with fishermen and f ish traders when it came to popularising the teaching kit prepared by Mundus maris with and for FAO and its Nansen Project with these professional categories.

On Tuesday, October 25, the working session was finally convened in the presence of the president of the parents' association, Mr. Gueye, who had so insistently requested it to happen. In addition to the coordinator of the Mundus maris Club - Senegal participated the director of the school, Mr. Lamine Niasse, and some parents and teachers.

By way of background: The primary school Hydrobase was constructed in 1991 and inaugurated in 1992. It has currently 513 pupils, of whom 241 are girls, divided into 8 classes and 10 teaching groups. Explanation: in the entry level (CI) there are 131 pupils divided into two cohorts. As a result of room shortages there are two teaching shifts at that level: 8h – 13h and 15h – 18h. The school is supervised by the “Inspection d'Académie” of St Louis and the Education and Training Inspectorate of St Louis – Municipality.

On this occasion, the vision, mission and accomplishments of Mundus maris were shared with those in attendance. They were particularly interested in the collaboration between FAO-Nansen Project with Mundus maris. The product of this cooperation, the teaching kit, was distributed to the teachers in a few copies. In addition, all were updated about an event that has an important place in our agenda: World Oceans Day (June 8). WOD is celebrated since 2009 following the decision of the UN General Assembly in 2008. Each year, we organise specific actions in Senegal.

On behalf of the other participants, the Director congratulated Mundus maris for these activities particularly in favour of children and their future. The president of the parents' association followed suit by encouraging us to persist, because he knows that this is voluntary work.

The Director proposed that the Hydrobase school develops a direct partnership with Mundus maris for the extension and use of the teaching materials, especially on the Barbary Peninsula occupied exclusively by fishermen and their families. As the school has an internet connection, it can access even the electronic version of the educational package and thus help spread the ecosystem approach to fisheries in the environment having a direct interest. He hopes too to receive support in their research for additional means enabling the school to settle some logistic problems. From now, the school is committed to actively participate in the celebration of World Oceans Day and will do its best to interest the many schools, including in particular those on the Barbary Peninsula.

The Director, Mr Lamine Niasse, can be contacted by e-mail at ecolehydrobase[at] or lamineniasse[at] or phone (+221) 77 161 35 07.

As a last remark, some may remember that the development work of the teaching kit about the ecosystem approach to fisheries for schools in West Africa has also led to early extension work by Mundus maris towards fish mongers and other fisheries professionals. Eventually, that triggered our field research as of end 2014.