Salamansa is a fishing village in Cape Verde with approximately 1,170 inhabitants. It is located north of the island of São Vicente near the city of Mindelo and it is a rural area where half of the population is primarily engaged in artisanal fishing for their livelihoods. The artisanal fishing community includes about 148 fishermen and 10 fish merchants, who also practice other socio-economic activities such as animal husbandry, agriculture (during the rainy season), and small scale trade.
With the aim to create alternative livelihoods, reduce the pressure on the ecosystem and reactivate the first underwater trail for ecotourism, the Associação dos Pescadores de Salamansa received technical and financial support from the GEF Small Grants Programme in Cape Verde in 2010. The construction of the underwater trail in Baía das Gatas was the result of an initial partnership between Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Cape Verde, WWF Germany and the German Agency for Nature Conservation.
The goal of this project was to demonstrate community-based ecotourism as a tool for biodiversity conservation and improvement of local livelihoods using the underwater trail as an example. To operationalize the underwater trail, the association carried out a number of key activities including the development of a marketing strategy to promote the trail, preparation of a code of conduct for its use, and selection and training of key staff to manage the trail.
The second phase of the project involved the establishment of a community-based maintenance and monitoring plan for the underwater trail and an awareness raising campaign within the community about the benefits of the sustainable use of marine resources. Once everything was in place, the trail was opened to the public, excursions were promoted and organized, and the Associação dos Pescadores de Salamansa, established a fund to collect and manage trail admission fees for maintaining the trail.