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Why is it Important to Develop West Africa’s Regional Ocean Sustainably? Engaging Civil Society on Sustainable Development of West Africa’s Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa has a large bounty that has provided employment for fishermen and women, food for families, astonishing sunsets that have attracted tourists and ports that have carried goods resulting in economic strength for many decades. However, changes in global and regional climate are resulting in rising sea levels, reduced fish numbers and coastal ruin amongst other impacts. To compound the situation, West African has 51 percent of the total West African population living on the coast. In addition, due to high population growth and the decreased productivity of agricultural lands in the coastal zones, caused by an increased salinization of the soils, coastal communities are under ever-greater pressure as more people move to the coast that are increasingly dependent on ocean resources for their survival. Attracted by the abundance of the West African ocean the coastal populations continue to grow. With more people living in the coastal areas, there is more stress placed on the fish and animal life through physical disruption and pollution, resulting in the degradation or loss of habitats that have crucial value in ecosystem services and biodiversity.