Conservation of marine ecosystems and biodiversity in Côte d’Ivoire
The State of the Marine Environment report is now available.
As part of the National Fortnight for the Environment and Sustainable Development (QNEDD), CIAPOL organized the official launching ceremony of the Report on the State of the Marine Environment of Côte d’Ivoire (SoME) on Wednesday June 16. 2021 at CRRAE UMOA in Abidjan Plateau. This report, developed under Côte d’Ivoire’s pilot project “Integrated Management of the Marine and Coastal Area from Abidjan to Assinie” (GIAMAA), aims at the conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems and biodiversity, and at the promotion and sustainable use of resources and ecosystem services.
In his speech, the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr. Jean Luc Assi, explained that the report on the state of the marine environment, which analyzes the current situation and trends, highlights that coastal areas are being subject to diversified and increasingly important pressures. These pressures often result in conflicts between different sectors of activity and impacts that generate environmental degradation and deteriorate the already very difficult living conditions of coastal populations. In this context, according to the Minister, the SoME should not only lead to increased awareness, but also to a change in practices. Continuing, the Minister mentioned that in the face of threats to the marine and coastal environment of Côte d’Ivoire, the report proposes two management options. Namely, inaction, which favors the continuation of current trends, or change, which calls for a review of the management system as a whole. “We are all called upon to ensure that the Ivorian marine and coastal zone continues to support the development of the country for both present and future generations”, he said.
“The SoME report is a decision-making tool, and also a document to raise awareness in order to change behavior”, said Martin Niagne Dibi, Director of CIAPOL. He added that the SoME has been developed for a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the state of marine and coastal ecosystems of Côte d’Ivoire to test natural and anthropogenic actions. Structured around 8 main chapters, the SoME is a collection of information and data on the health of the marine environment and coastal areas of Côte d’Ivoire. It deals with the pressures and impacts of anthropogenic activities that directly affect the environmental quality of marine and coastal areas. In addition, it examines the potential impacts of climate change, one of the consequences of which is sea level rise, and also provides a qualitative assessment of the state of coastal and marine habitats as well as current threats and future risks to these environments.
Mr. Abou Bamba, Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention, pointed out that the stock of fisheries resources is in danger, with illegal fishing at the root of the problem, with losses estimated at 100,000 tons in 2018. In addition, the mangroves on the coast are being destroyed by exploitation activities, constituting a significant pressure on the environment. The area of mangrove cover, which was 15,000 ha in the early 1990s around the Fresco lagoon, decreased to only 5,000 ha in 2006. The mangroves around the Ebrié lagoon have been almost completely devastated. “The threat to marine biodiversity is a reality in our country”. The Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention also explained that marine and coastal pollution, when caused by oil spills and biological waste, contributes to the disappearance of certain species including sharks, rays, manatees, marine turtles and certain species of birds, fish stocks, and shellfish. He also recalled that according to a study by the Ministry of Environment published in 2019, nearly 200,000 tons of plastic waste are being collected annually on our beaches and that the state of sanitation of these spaces, which represent 7% of the territory, is a real danger for marine biodiversity and tourism, but also for the health of the Ivorian population. These figures are worrying and we must beware, he concluded.
Note also the presence of Mr. Benjamin Laag, First Secretary of the German Embassy in Côte d’Ivoire, very satisfied with the work done given the quality of the produced report. Mr. Laag reiterated the willingness of the German State to support environmental projects in our country. The prefectural body has for the occasion received from the hands of the Minister in charge of the environment copies of the report in order to popularize the results contained therein for the coastal populations.
In addition to this report, two other documents, including the Summary for Decision Makers and the Answers to the Concerns of Customary Authorities, which provides solutions to the coastal populations, were given to the various personalities present at the workshop. It should also be recalled that the Ivorian coastal zone, which extends over 565 km, is full of many resources which, if they are being safeguarded, could contribute significantly to the economic growth of the country. The blue economy could generate more than FCFA 3,000 to 6,000 billion for the gross domestic product of Côte d’Ivoire. A panel on the theme “Importance of the preservation of coastal and marine ecosystems for the socio-economic development of Côte d’Ivoire” has as such ended this launching ceremony of the SoME report – the first in the history of Côte d’Ivoire.
Images: GIAMAA project