On December 4-5 2019, the Ecosystem-based approach to Integrated Marine and Coastal Environment Management (EIMCEM) project team and partners gathered to assess progress on Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), State of the Marine Environment (SoME) Reporting, and Ecologically or Biologically Significant marine Areas (EBSAs).
The stakeholder validation workshop of the three Integrated Ocean Management (IOM) components (MSP, SoME and EBSAs) was held in Takoradi and included the participation of the traditional authorities of Ghana’s Western Region. 18 months after the launch of the project, which is currently being implemented in four coastal districts of the Western Region (Ahanta West, Nzema East, Jomoro, and Ellembelle), this constituted an opportunity to present and assess progress on the three tools: MSP, SoME reporting, and EBSAs identification. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in charge of implementing the EIMCEIM project, was represented by Dr. Lawrence Akoto, Chief Programme Officer, on behalf of Mr. Ebenezer Appah-Sampong, Deputy Executive Director of the institution.
Stakeholders convened to assess and validate the collected baseline data as well as to fill the existing gaps before moving on to data analysis. They represented a broad range of institutions and constituencies, including government, academia, and local communities, and included the EPA, the Ghana Maritime Authority, the University of Ghana, the University of Cape Coast, the Center for African Wetlands, the Fisheries Commission of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, but importantly also local fisherfolk communities. The workshop was organized around three working groups, one for each IOM component.
EBSAs: The project team identified 9 potential sites within the project area, according to the 7 scientific criteria adopted during the 2008 CoP of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Each area identified in the different districts have their own specificities, which are:
- Ahanta West: Spawning and resting area, upwelling, coral reef site, home to marine mammals, and important migratory routes;
- Nzema East: Marine turtles;
- Jomoro: Mangroves;
- Ellembelle: Spawning and nursing areas for fish.
The team also presented maps indicating:
- Coral reef areas;
- Turtle nesting areas, fish and shrimps’ points;
- Fish migration routes;
- Zooplankton locations.
MAMI WATA’s Center of Expertise (CoE) for EBSAs, the Centre for Environmental Monitoring (CSE) attended the meeting, and will work in close collaboration in 2020 with the EPA towards refining these sites, in order to decide which ones could be declared Marine Protected Areas in the future.
SoME: The EPA presented the first analyses carried out, based on the information collected in June 2019. These different analyses show the evolution of the resources in the study area as well as the existing conditions.
“The SoME group is responsible for looking at the pressures. These are influencing the resources that we have along the coast. When I talk about pressures, I mean activities that would negatively affect our resources and cause them to reduce in quality and quantity” explained Dr. Donatus Angnuureng, Research Fellow at the Centre for Coastal Management of the University of Cape Coast, and member of the SoME group.
MAMI WATA’s CoE for SoME, the Environmental Protection Agency – Sierra Leone (EPA-SL) and its partner the University of Sierra Leone (USL), have been working closely with the Ghana EPA to exchange knowledge and help present the first analysis. The next steps include refining this first analysis, with the aim of presenting an SoME report for Ghana’s Western Region by the end of 2020.
MSP: The project team presented its sub-regional Marine Spatial Development Framework (MSDF), which aims at giving policy directions for the effective use of coastal and marine ecosystems. The MSDF covers the four aforementioned coastal districts and covers a total area of approximatively 79498 km2, comprising 247 km2 on shore and 77019 km2 of ocean space.
Mrs. Celestina Deku, Spatial Planner at the Land Use and Planning Special Authority commented: “MSP is an important aspect of the project […]. Once you have identified the sensitive areas, and you’ve also identified the state of the marine environment, what next? You need to put in some measures to either protect against or mitigate some human activities or pressures from other areas and you also have to give guidance as to the use of the resources within the marine space. Marine spatial planning gives us the opportunity to put all the pieces together and then come up with some management plans to help us better using the resources within the marine space”.
MAMI WATA’s CoE for MSP, the International Ocean Institute (IOI) attended the meeting and commented on the MSP process to date as well as on the next steps. These include workshops with all relevant stakeholders, in order to finalize a marine spatial plan for the Western Region, the aim being to implement and enforce the plan by the end of 2020.
Following the different presentations, stakeholders expressed their support to the project, while requesting the EIMCEM team to organize more direct actions including capacity development sessions with local fisherfolk. All the stakeholders’ feedback will serve to produce a first draft of the baseline report for each tools, which should be circulated for final review during the coming months.
Alison AMOUSSOU & Louis PILLE-SCHNEIDER
Picture: Alison Amoussou (Abidjan Convention)