Past, present and future perspectives


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Figure 2s.3: Threats to Africa's coastal and marine environment

Africa has a long and varied coastline supporting a diversity of habitats, resources, and economic activities. There has been rapid urban and industrial development and growth in tourism in many coastal zones without adequate planning, protection, or provision of infrastructure. As a result of this-and of phenomena in the hinterland such as deforestation and soil erosion- coastal erosion is a growing concern, particularly in Western Africa, Eastern Africa, and the Western Indian Ocean Islands. Sea level rise due to climate change is a real and serious threat to the Western Indian Ocean Islands and to low-lying coastal settlements, particularly in Northern, Western and Central Africa. Sea temperature rise has the potential to cause coral bleaching which would have damaging impacts on the economies of the countries bordering the Red Sea and Western Indian Ocean.nder pressure from pollution from land-based and sea-based sources. Oil pollution is a major threat, with high levels of oil transportation threatening the eastern and southern African coast and islands, and oil drilling and processing activities causing problems along the northern, western and central African coast.

Domestic, industrial and agricultural effluents are problems in most sub-regions, especially around large urban or industrial coastal centres, and in Western and Central Africa where commercial plantations are common in the coastal zone. Overharvesting of coastal and marine resources is a priority concern for countries of Southern and Western Africa and for the island states, because of their relatively large area of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Most coastal African countries are party to relevant international conventions and have national policies and regulations for sustainable coastal development and use of marine resources. In particular, Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) plans have been developed by many countries, showing commitment to conservative use of the coastal zone and marine resources. These plans are, however, wide-ranging in nature and require considerable resources such as trained personnel, equipment, financial resources, and more effective policing, monitoring, administration and enforcement. Lack of coordination between government departments and between countries is an additional constraint on their effectiveness. Coordination should be strengthened. Figure 2s.3 shows the threats to Africa's coastal and marine environment.