Alkaly Doumbouya:
Inventory and Sustainable Exploitation of Edible Mollusc Resources of the Guinean Coastline: Case Study in the Tristao Islands Marine Protected Area (Tristao MPA)


National Fisheries Ressearch Center in Boussoura - CNSHB, Fisheries and Coastal Management, Guinea

The numerous mounds of mollusc shells that one meets on the Guinean coastline testify the great importance of molluscs and crustaceans in the economy of the Guinean coastal communities. Today, these gastropods and marine bivalves represent a main component of the food security of the inhabitants of the West-African region and have become more and more one of the main sources of incomes for women. Other uses of these shellfish include the making of paint, the production of lime, the feeding of poultry, or as decoration or jewellery for tourism. Gleaning these resources, collecting them by hand, and their pickup all around the Tristao islands are exclusively the work of women.

The present case study achieved by interviewing 300 women in the Tristao Island MPA aimed to gain a better understanding of the operating systems and traditional management of the edible molluscs in this important site. The results show the importance of the traditional exploitation of the shellfish, describe the harvesting techniques and present traditional processing and storage methods. These women have recently begun selling the shellfish, which provides a new source of income for the community.

Thus, 6 species of bivalves and 7 species of gastropods have been identified in Tristao Island and have been described in their habitats. Most species are food sources, but exploited to different degrees by the women who gain financial autonomy from the industry. The collection and the pickup of these molluscs are practiced within natural sites (mangrove and low tide zones: beaches, muddy zones, creeks and rivers, etc.). The products are preserved by cooking and sun drying when the product is used for household consumption and by cooking, sun drying and smoking, when the products are offered on the markets in Kamsar and Boké, situated far away from the islands. Among these molluscs, the bloody cockle (Senilia senilis) and the oysters (Crassostrea gasar) play the most important role in socioeconomic aspect. Culturally, the bloody cockle (Senilia senilis) is harvested exclusively for the local consumption and its merchandising is forbidden by the Nalou indigenous community.

The merchandising of the oyster (Crassostrea gasar), of which the harvested quantities can be substantial, is one of the most lucrative income generating activities practiced on the islands by the women.

Keywords: Biotopes, bivalves, gastropods, marine protected area, merchandising of oysters, traditional processing


Contact Address: Alkaly Doumbouya, National Fisheries Ressearch Center in Boussoura - CNSHB, Fisheries and Coastal ManagementGbessia - Cité de l'Air - Commune Matoto, Conakry, Guinea, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, October 2010