SponGES held its first roundtable meeting on 10th November in Dakar, Senegal. The meeting was held back-to-back with a FAO/CECAF Technical Workshop on deep-sea fisheries and Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) in the high sea areas of the Eastern Central Atlantic. About 40 participants, mainly scientists and stakeholders from West African countries but also Spain and Portugal, participated in the workshop, and learnt and discussed about VMEs and the threats to these from deep-sea fisheries.
The roundtable begun with an introduction about SponGES, including aims related to science-policy dialogue and capacity building. Then, the first results of this summer’s research cruises were shown. Furthermore, relevant policies and strategies were presented in an overview and the problems regarding impact assessment and mitigation of Significant Adverse Impacts (SAI) were discussed.
There was a real interest in deep-sea sponges and the need of more information and awareness materials were expressed. The participants provided valuable inputs with comments and discussion points, including practical suggestions for how SponGES could provide useful tools for assisting ecosystem based management and identification of VMEs.