Project Leader

Ghofrane Labyedh

Ghofrane Labyedh

Who I am

I am an ocean conservationist and a marine biologist with a Master’s degree in marine ecology and conservation. I spent more than eight years studying marine wildlife and conservation from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, which has given me a solid foundation in knowing how to integrate research, conservation and project management. For the past four years I have been working for the African Marine Mammal Conservation Organisation (AMMCO), collecting and analysing data on the small-scale elasmobranch fishery along the coast of Cameroon. Recently I was appointed to lead the Shark and Ray Programme in Cameroon for AMMCO and the Manta Trust.

I started discovering marine life when I was volunteering with an environmental organisation in Tunisia. At that time I was mainly monitoring sea turtles on an isolated island that would later become part of the Kuriat Islands Marine Protected Area. While working in basic conditions on that remote island, I was also studying how best to protect the marine environment for turtles and all the other sea creatures that live in it. That was when I realised the true meaning of being alive: to make a positive impact on our planet and do everything in my power to protect it. The key achievements that I gained after five years of volunteering were to see the big picture of the current situation for marine wildlife and to choose ocean conservation as my life’s mission. Since visiting the eastern Atlantic Ocean shore of Cameroon in 2019, protecting sharks and rays has also become my ambition. Studying another aspect of marine life on my own continent has been key to seeing and understanding the overall picture of how the wildlife of the sea, particularly sharks and rays, is exploited in this understudied area.

Where I work

When I started working with AMMCO as a trainer in 2019, I spent two months in Cameroon recovering and analysing the data on the SIREN app, a platform created by AMMCO on which fishers record landings of marine megafauna (mammals, elasmobranchs and sea turtles). After my previous internship, I chose the sharks and rays of Cameroon as the topic of my Master’s thesis as, according to the data from the SIREN app, they were the marine megafauna species most often seen. In 2021 I returned to Cameroon for six months, working as a project manager and fundraiser for AMMCO, and I continued to work for the organisation remotely until 2022. Recently I moved to southern Cameroon to live permanently at Kribi, where I lead its Shark and Ray Programme. AMMCO is now an affiliate project of the Manta Trust and I work closely with Manta Trust colleagues.

Within this context, our project will be implemented along the Kribi-Campo coastline in southern Cameroon, on the Gulf of Guinea. This 170-kilometre (105-mile) stretch of coast has a varied hydrographical network that includes rivers, waterfalls and mangroves. These different habitats provide homes for an exceptionally rich marine biodiversity comprising numerous whale, sea turtle and fish species, as well as sharks and rays. Our study region is also distinguished by being the site of Cameroon’s first marine park, ‘Manyange Na Elombo’, which lies near the border with Equatorial Guinea. The surveys for this project will begin in Londgi and finish in Bokombé-Campo, an area located between 2° 22’–3° 12’N and 9° 49’–9° 55’E. Our field survey will take place at four local landing sites: Londgi, Mboa-Manga, Ngoye and Bokombé-Campo.


What I do

This project will be integrated into a five-year strategic plan devised by AMMCO and the Manta Trust to establish a conservation and research programme for sharks and rays in Cameroon. As the programme leader, I will be coordinating and overseeing the Conservation and Research of the Elasmobranchs in Cameroon (CREC) project, which is a joint initiative of AMMCO and the Manta Trust. I also lead and supervise the shark and ray research and conservation programme within AMMCO. For the CREC project I conduct meetings to design the shark and ray survey and discuss the analysis of the data acquired, organise events such as workshops, share reports and updates and provide media content for the Manta Trust platform. My work for the Shark and Ray Programme is very varied. I develop and maintain relationships with donors and partners, manage the programme’s budget, raise funds and write proposals and financial and technical reports. I designed and implemented the protocol for elasmobranch monitoring and, with Cameroon’s ministries of environment, wildlife and fisheries, have developed strategy plans for the monitoring and conservation of elasmobranchs. I also work with fishers and local communities to raise awareness of the need to protect marine megafauna, especially sharks and rays, and I collect and analyse data on the catches of small-scale fisheries along the coast of Cameroon. In addition, I coordinate digital communication and produce material for AMMCO’s social media, train students and volunteers in monitoring marine animals, and write scientific papers.

My project

Project See project and more news