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’s legal basis stems from Article XVI of the Regional Convention for the Conservation of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, known as the Jeddah Convention, signed in 1982: “A Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Environment, the permanent headquarters of which shall be located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is hereby established". It was not until September 1995, however, with the signing of the Cairo Declaration during the First Council Meeting in Egypt, that PERSGA’s creation was formally announced. Falling under the umbrella of the Arab League, PERSGA has since become recognized as one of the leading marine conservation organizations operating in the Red Sea region.
The development of PERSGA’s Strategic Action Plan in 1997 provides the operational mandates governing PERSGA’s conservation activities and programmes. Taking a step-by-step approach, the SAP was prepared on the premise that it would be implemented in phases, each with its own set of particular priorities and areas of focus. The first Phase of the SAP was implemented during 1999-2005 with the support of GEF. As of 2006, PERSGA has been conducting its work under SAP Phase 2, which concentrates primarily on sustainable development and institutional strengthening.
In attempting to safeguard the environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden established a system of MPAs aiming at conserving all ecosystems of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden as a whole. The MPAs network therefore contains examples of all major biogeographical sub-units of the Region and major habitat types within each sub-unit. It includes prime examples of the full range of coastal and marine habitat types and species communities.
Twelve declared and proposed/suggested MPAs, representing different ecosystem types and biodiversity richness and uniqueness, were identified as regionally or globally important. These are: Iles des Sept Frères and Ras Siyan (Djibouti); Ras Mohammed National Park; Giftun Islands and Straits of Gubal (Egypt); Aqaba coral reefs (Jordan); Straits of Tiran; Wajh Bank, Sharm Habban and Sharm Munaybirah; Farasan Islands (Saudi Arabia); Aibat and Saad ad-Din Islands, Saba Wanak (Somalia); Sanganeb Marine National Park; Mukkawar Island and Dungonab Bay (Sudan); Socotra Islands; Belhaf and Bir Ali area (Yemen).