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Ecosystem-based approach to Integrated Marine and Coastal Environment Management (EIMCEM)

Context

Background

Ghana, located in Western Africa, along the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean, has a coastline of 550km and an Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) of over 218,000 km2. Ghana is highly dependent on the ocean and its coastal areas for sustainable development. The country’s coastal environment provides habitats for ecosystems such as mangrove forests, close to one hundred lagoons, estuaries, rocky and sandy beaches, and a rich and diverse biodiversity. These ecosystems provide important benefits to people and communities, such as livelihoods, food and recreation. The ocean and coastal zones are important areas for the country’s economic development. For example, the fisheries sector accounts for 4% of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and supports over one million people. Moreover, marine transport has seen a steady increase over the last 10 years. With increasing maritime traffic, a number of companies have been licensed to carry out offshore bunkering. Several physical infrastructures are situated within the coastal environment to support economic activities, including port facilities, landing beaches for artisanal fisheries, single point mooring facilities, offshore and inshore gas pipelines and submarine telecommunication cables.

Problem

The growth of various economic activities in the maritime sector, is increasing the threat of inter-sectoral conflicts over maritime space and resource use. The overexploitation of the natural resources has led to issues that include but are not limited to, oil and plastic pollution, dwindling fisheries resources, changing coastal ecosystems, threatened food security and livelihoods, etc.  Hence there is a pressing need to undertake spatial planning of the marine waters of Ghana to support the harmonious growth of economic activities in the marine sectors.

Proposed Solution

Much of the challenge of marine and coastal resources management is to reduce the pressures of human activities on the resources and ecosystems. Adopting a marine spatial planning approach will enable Ghana to apply integrated management tools in an inclusive way, to ensure the reduction of excessive human pressures on marine resources, and to achieve a more sustainable use of these. This process will furthermore contribute into achieving Strategic Goal B of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and most targets under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14. Only a few countries in the Gulf of Guinea have established Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and these are found mainly in the western Gulf of Guinea. Part of the proposed solution will be the establishment of one or more MPAs in Ghana. This will be part of the EIMCEM’s efforts to build capacity for ecosystem-based management of the marine and coastal environment.

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