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Atelier national d'opérationnalisation du plan national d'urgence contre les déversements accidentels d'hydrocarbures en mer du Bénin Date : 09th to 11th of July 2018 Venue : Cotonou, Golden Tulipe le Diplomate, Benin L’atelier national d'opérationnali...

Abidjan – Forty five French and American scientists met in Galveston (Texas, USA) from 17 to 19 January, 2018 to study the issue of Sargassum. This was an international workshop organized by the Service for Science and Technology (SST) of the Consulate of France in Houston, the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) and Texas A&M University (Galveston Campus).

Photo: Abidjan Convention

The initiative comes four years after the beaches of Galveston, the West Indies and parts of West Africa have mysteriously been invaded by brown algae (Sargassum).

The purpose of the meeting was initially to bring together researchers and organizations working on marine and coastal biodiversity issues and get them to pool their efforts to fight against Sargasso's coastal invasion.

In the future, oceanographers, meteorologists, marine biologists, physicists and tele detectors could improve predictions by taking a collective look at the phenomenon. The approach will provide a better understanding of the factors responsible for this algal proliferation, the vectors that represent the ocean currents as well as the temperature variations of the ocean surface.

Since its appearance in 2014, this spectacular phenomenon had severely endangered the tourism sector because of the olfactory nuisance caused by the organic decomposition of algae. The unbearable smell from these algae had driven tourists away, seriously impacting local economies.

In the South Atlantic, countries of the Abidjan Convention had observed the phenomenon, especially Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The Secretariat of the Abidjan Convention facilitated the meeting of experts on the subject in Sierra Leone and Liberia to discuss sargassum. At the end of the meeting, a Sargassum management strategy was developed with the support of the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WABiCC) project.

Through Dr. Jacques Abe, the Abidjan Convention was invited to Galveston to present the state of knowledge of Sargassum in West Africa.

While waiting for a solution to the Sargassum problem, Dr. Abe suggests to focus on some profitable advantages we might get in transforming sargassum. For example, cosmetic industries see in sargassum potential resource for perfume composition. Brown algae were also used to fix sand dunes in Galveston. In addition, a session was organized to taste beer made from Sargasso algae.

In Galveston, participants welcomed the progress made during this conference. The next meeting to finalize the Franco-American protocol agreement will take place in Marseille, France later this year. The Abidjan Convention is pleased to have participated in such event giving it the opportunity to discuss areas of cooperation with the Institute of Research for Development (IRD). Both organizations are considering signing a Memorandum of Understanding that will address biological studies of Sargassum growth. The experiments will be conducted at the Abidjan Centre of Oceanographic Researches (CRO), which is already collaborating with IRD France.

The participation of the Abidjan Convention in this symposium responds to the implementation of the COP12 decision on transatlantic cooperation (decision COP12, CP-12.20). This decision requires the Secretariat to establish an appropriate framework for environmental cooperation on both sides of the Atlantic. Lire en Français