Marine and Coastal Resources Governance

Comoros has established standards to manage the coastal resources and environmental quality through installing both domestic and international laws.

Domestic Laws and Regulations[1]

Environmental Policy Framework of the Union of the Comoros

The National Environmental Policy of the Union of the Comoros was prepared and adopted in 1993 by Decree No. 93-214/PR. The country’s 2001 Constitution, in its Preamble, proclaims “the right to a healthy environment and the duty of all to safeguard that environment”. Adopted in 1994, its Environmental Code declares that environmental protection is in “the public interest” and recalls the right to a healthy environment and the obligation to safeguard it. Article 18 of the Environmental Code also stipulates that the State must ensure the protection of the soil and subsoil, water resources and the marine environment, the atmosphere and biological diversity.

Between 1993 and 2001, Comoros adopted a National Environmental Policy, an Environmental Action Plan and a National Strategy and Action Plan for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Biodiversity.

The Decree No. 94/100/PR and an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) adopted in 1994, put in place a legislative and regulatory framework for sustainable development, impact assessments, biological diversity, protection of the terrestrial and marine environment, and protected areas. This led to the establishment of the Mohéli Marine Park as a marine protected area.

Framework Law No. 94-018/AF of 22 June 1994: this is the legal framework for environmental management in the Comoros. It stipulates that development and planning projects should be subject to environmental impact assessment.

Decree of 19 April 2001: this decree is specific to ecological assessment, including the list of works, developments or structures that should be subject to an impact assessment. To date, however, no measures have been taken to enforce the decree.

Law N°88-006/PR: this law concerns the legal regime developed in 1988 for reforestation and forest management, requiring that forest management should aim at: (i) safeguarding the local environment; (ii) protecting agricultural plantations; (iii) combating erosion; and (iv) providing fuel or construction wood or improving living conditions.

Other Decrees and Orders issued for the protection of biological diversity include:

  • Order No. 01/031 /MPE/CAB protecting wild fauna and flora of the Comoros
  • Decree No. 01/32/MPE/CAB of 14/05/2001 adopting the National Strategy and Action Plan for the Conservation of Biological Diversity
  • Decree N°01-053/CE of 19/04/2001 concerning the Mohéli Marine Park
  • Order No. 02/002/MPE/CAB of 01/02/2002 annexed to Decree No. 01-053/EC of 19 April 2001 on the Mohéli Marine Park and specifying the boundaries of the park area
  • Decree No. 01/33/MPE/CAB of 14/05/2001 adopting the Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Turtles in the Comoros. 

International Laws and Agreements to which Comoros is Party

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982)

Popularly known as UNCLOS, the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, this international agreement defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

Convention on Biological Biodiversity (1992)

This Convention supports Comoros to conserve biological diversity, promote the sustainable use of its components, and encourage equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. Such equitable sharing includes appropriate access to genetic resources, as well as appropriate transfer of technology, considering existing rights over such resources and such technology.

The Convention places a duty on States Parties to conserve biological diversity within their jurisdiction, as well as outside their jurisdiction in certain cases (art. 4); requires States to cooperate in preserving biological diversity in areas out of national jurisdiction (art. 5);  conferring responsibility on States Parties for the formulation and implementation of strategies, plans or programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (art. 6).

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

One of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted is Goal 14: Life below water, which aims to sustainably manage, use and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification. Learn more about SDG 14: Life below Water 

Target 5 of the SDG 14 is to conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information by 2020. Nairobi Convention is supporting Comoros meet the obligations under SDG Targets 14.2 and 14.5 and Aichi Target 11, besides other SDGs by publishing the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Outlook for the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region.

The Mohéli Marine National Park was the first marine park established in 2001 to counter the social, economic, and environmental threats posed to biodiversity by rapid population growth, over-exploitation of resources, and poverty. The park includes 10 community-managed marine reserves covering 404 km2 of ocean, adapts a collaborative and community-based approach to management of the marine resources on which the lives and livelihoods of the islanders depend[14].

Comoros has made progress towards increasing the total coverage of MPAs. Currently, Comoros has proclaimed one MPA covering 449.22 sq km. This protected area has given Comoros the opportunity to maintain food and job security; protect its remarkable biodiversity; and safeguard its cultural heritage.  Efforts are underway to designate three proposed MPAs (i.e. the Coelacanth, Mitsamiouli-Ndroudé, and Shisiwani National Parks), which would help Comoros achieve its vision of protecting 25% of its territory by 2021.

Find out more about the Marine Protected Areas in Comoros at the Nairobi Convention Dashboard here.

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

Comoros ratified the Stockholm Convention in January 2007[2]. It aims at reducing or eliminating the releases resulting from intentional or unintentional production and use of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and reducing or eliminating releases from chemical stockpiles and wastes.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992)

The Convention aims to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system.” It states that “such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.”

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.