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PERSGA, the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, is an intergovernmental body dedicated to the conservation of the coastal and marine environments found in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aqaba, Gulf of Suez, Suez Canal, and Gulf of Aden surrounding the Socotra Archipelago and nearby waters. PERSGA’s member states include: Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
PERSGA originated from a project in the early 1970’s, led by the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) with the assistance of UNESCO. The project was called the ‘Programme for the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden’ (PERSGA) aimed to address key concerns within the region. The project led to the governments in the region signing ‘The Regional Convention for the Conservation of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Environment’, which is known as the ‘Jeddah Convention’. The Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, which retains the same acronym as the original project PERSGA, was established in September 1996.
PERSGA is governed by a Council composed of the Ministers in charge of the environment from each of the Member States, which meets annually to approve technical and financial policies. The PERSGA Secretariat is based in Jeddah and all of the Member States contribute to the budget. The daily affairs are managed by the PERSGA Secretariat, a small but dedicated team of professionals drawn from the countries of the region. Specific regional programmes are assisted with grants provided by international donors.
PERSGA is responsible for the implementation of the Jeddah Convention, the Action Plan, and associated Protocols, including special action plans for species and habitats, and related activities. The Jeddah Convention serves as the primary mechanism recognizing the need for the integration and coordination of efforts by the seven Member States in the RSGA Region, regarding their shared marine/coastal resources. As the oceans, coasts and the processes they support do not adhere to State boundaries, a Regional approach to protection and management is essential to ensure the health of the Region as a whole, along with its component areas.
In addition to these protocols and Regional Action Plans, a set of Memoranda of Understanding have been prepared and signed with relevant regional and international organizations.
Phase I of the regional project for the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden started in 1999 and finished in 2004. The project was financed by the GEF, executed by PERSGA and implemented jointly among three GEF agencies (UNDP, UNEP and the World Bank). The project aimed at improving coastal and marine environments of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and had several core components to address navigation risks and maritime pollution, living marine resources, habitat and biodiversity conservation and the development of a regional network of Marine Protected Areas among others. During the PERSGA SAP, baseline field surveys were completed at four high priority sites proposed for protected. Master Plans were prepared for both DMNP and SMNP. The preparation of the Master Plan for DMNP led to the area being officially gazetted in 2004 under the Wildlife and Hunting Act 1986.
Phase II of the regional project for the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden started in 2013 and will finish in 2017. The project, entitled Strategic Ecosystem-based Management (SEM), is financed by the GEF, executed by PERSGA and implemented by the World Bank. The project development objective is to improve the management of marine resources in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in selected MPAs building on resource protection and incentive systems for communities and the harmonization of the knowledge base of marine resources among PERSGA member countries. The project includes three project components that focus on: (1) Strengthening of marine management concepts in Marine Protected Areas; (2) Strengthening coastal communities and; (3) Regional environmental and socioeconomic monitoring network. DMNP was selected as one of two demonstration sites for the PERSGA SEM project., the other MPA being Wadi El Gamal in Egypt. The SEM project provided training in MPA management planning and a new management plan was for DMNP in consultation with local stakeholders. Equipment has been purchased for WCGA, the management authority. The project has also supported a reinvigoration of monitoring activities, and initiated new alternative sustainable livelihood based activities.