Based on strong prospects for petroleum, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz campaigned for a ‘new’ Mauritania, depicted as a promising metropolis resembling Dubai (Choplain and Lombard 2009). In the same oil and gas rich coastline an abundance and highly biodiverse ecoregion provides a 500 million euro fishing industry to the country and much of its population. Such biological abundance would be greatly limited by widespread oil developments such as those that are taking place along the whole of Mauritania’s coast, even offshore from the country’s famous national park. Yet, the imagination of oil wealth masks the more stark realities of an economy that could become dependent upon its short term benefits, realities such as constantly shifting petroleum markets, clean-up of environmental hazards related to the industry, and social unrest as youth and workers’ expectations are not met by improvements in employment conditions and opportunities. In a report by OilWatch from 2004, it was predicted that oil/gas development offshore in Mauritania would serve only to strengthen the government, and not the country’s infrastructure and development initiatives, a premonition that is slightly being revealed at the local scale. Despite numerous reports cautioning the government to slow its oil development, in 2015, Mauritania’s government made it easier for petroleum companies to obtain exploration – exploitation contracts by permitting the decision to be made by decree, as opposed to through a lengthy legislative process. Still, today, there are more than seven companies invested in exploring offshore petroleum deposits, but of these only a few have begun to extract the resources. Nonetheless, Mauritania’s coastal economic health is hinged upon this development (Faujas 2016; OilWatch 2005), one that tends to benefit only an elite segment of the population (Choplain and Lombard 2009). What remains to be seen is how if and when the government will address the potential for heavy ecological and social losses as a result of its non-protective mining policies. Historically, Mauritania has moved out of colonization and into autocratic rule by a privileged elite. The first democratically elected president, Sidi Ould Cheik Abdallahi served for only 16 months (2007-2008) before he was ousted by a coup by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who is the current president. The coup was met by fierce opposition by the Mauritanian populace andthe EU, who demanded that the military junta restore Abdallahi to power, while European countries pulled out aid programs. Abdallahi was perceived as the first and only democratic president, who refused to permit the country’s wealth to be squandered in the hands of foreign companies. As a mark of integrity, when the oil revenues were not sufficient to pay the salaries of civil servants, Abdallahi took a 50% pay cut to his own salary (Augé 2007). According to the Courrier International, Abdallahi’s treatment of oil contracts heavily contributed to the putsch. In recent years, civic unrest has dominated the political discourse in the country, during which the government under Aziz has ordered violent suppression of peaceful protesters on multiple occasions, especially those who disrupt the government’s development agenda. In 2012, mining companies engaged in violence against workers holding a labor meeting, leading to the death of one worker. This propelled people to the streets in Nouakchott carrying a banner with the victim’s face and demanding an independent investigation into his death. The police responded initially by arresting the protest’s top organizers, but quickly released them when they saw the persistence and increasing unrest amongst the remaining protesters. In April 2017, the government responded to a peaceful protest by students vindicating the lack of work and opportunity through arbitrarily arresting and repressing the marchers. In May 2017, protests rang out in Paris by the CMAF (Collectif des Mauritaniens de France) against the potential for discrimination based on skin color that was being manifested in Mauritania due to the development of a biometric identification card, which is part of the country’s fight against terrorism. The persistent marginalization of the black Mauritanian population leaves many without justice in the country, but provides a ready and affordable labor base to international companies. The country’s coast possesses one of the most abundant fisheries on the planet with makerel, marlin, shrimp, sardines, barracuda and many other species providing for 50% of the country’s foreign currency earnings. In response to this rich ecology, Mauritania has followed suit with many other countries in the Sahel, stating that the means to protect the marine ecosystems are both unattainable due to financial constraints and also secondary to the short term economic gain (Magrin et al 2011). This is true also for the Parc National de Banc d’Arguin, one of the largest parks in West Africa at 12,000 square kilometers, covering Mauritania’s Atlantic coast and the Sahara Desert between Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.The indigenous Imraguens living along the coast have been on the frontlines of a changing ecosystem as fishing trawlers and oil development threaten to permanently alter the marine ecosystem that protects their livelihood. Offshore oil and gas development puts into question the sustainability of the coastal livelihoods and the abundant fishery. Despite the presence of laws protecting the coast, the weakness or unwillingness of the Mauritanian state translates to less preparation in situations of urgency such as an accidental oil spill or leakage (World Bank 2011). There are few technical or institutional mechanisms in place to respond to and coordinate such a situation (Magrin et al. 2011). Furthermore, the seismic technology being used to gather data on deep water oil reserves is destructive to both fish endocrine systems and the communication systems of marine mammals. Environmental organizations within and without Mauritania have written reports about the problems related to offshore oil development, including the Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Oil Watch, and the United Nations. In 2014, the government revised the mining code, but did not account for the appeals of these multiple environmental justice groups. According to the 2014 Mining Code revision, mining contracts are given for a period of four months, which can be renewed only one time. A prospecting contract does not guarantee an exploitation contract, and the area must be lesser than 500 square kilometers. In 2006, Mauritania created a national fund from hydrocarbon revenue (FNRH), and they also adhere to the Initiative for Transparency in Extractive Industries (ITIE) (Waxma 2016). Nonetheless, the country’s elite capture of wealth from the petroleum offshore resources has provided further means to continue with a rent-based economy, which has not responded to the employment, environmental protection, and development wishes of the population (Magrin et al 2011).