By Judith Akolo
Experts now say Africa’s ecosystems, teeming with a robust biodiversity, are well placed to ensure realization of the aspirations of growth in the continent’s Blue Economy industry especially as envisaged in the African Union Agenda 2063.
The acting Director of the African Union – InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) Dr. Nick Nwankpa says that the African continent is well endowed with productive ecosystems to provide resources for sustainable livelihoods, food security and wealth.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Helen Moepi-Guebama, the officer in charge of fisheries at AU-IBAR, Dr. Nwankpa said that ecosystems like “Rivers and Lakes, and the seven African Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs): Agulhas Current LME, Benguela Current LME, Guinea Current LME, Canary current LME, Mediterranean Sea LME, Red Sea LME and Somali Current LME are sufficient to ensure aspirations of the Blue Economy.”
Speaking at the Knowledge Fair organised by the ECOFISH Programme in partnership with the African Union InterAfrica Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), AU-IBAR official noted that despite the crucial role that ecosystems play in socio-cultural and economic development, Aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems are highly threatened by unsustainable exploitation and “other practices that risk continued supply of ecosystem services.”
With the blue economy concept coming in to promote the sustainable use of aquatic resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and the enhancement of aquatic ecosystem health, AU-IBAR says that the African continent has instituted various efforts towards developing the various sectors of the blue economy with the Africa Blue Economy Strategy (ABES) as one of the measures aimed at realizing the envisaged goals.
The strategy themed “Developing a sustainable blue economy; increasing momentum for Africa’s Blue Growth”, has the objective of guiding the development of an inclusive and sustainable blue economy that becomes a significant contributor to continental transformation and growth through: “advancing knowledge on marine and aquatic biotechnology; environmental sustainability; the growth of Africa-wide shipping industry; the development of sea, river and lake transport; the management of fishing activities on these aquatic spaces; and the exploitation and beneficiation of deep-sea minerals and other resources.”
The Chairman of the Blue Economy committee in the Council of Governors and Lamu Governor Issa Timamy says Environmental conservation and maintenance of ecosystem balance ought to assume a global approach. “We in the region no matter what level of Government have the potential to enhance our regional integration and conserve our biodiversity,” he said.
Governor Timamy says that while local people in his Lamu county may not be dumping plastics into the Indian Ocean the movement of waves is pushing garbage dumped thousands of kilometers away onto the Lamu archipelago.
Governor Timamy is warning that plastic pollution in the ocean is a major threat to biodiversity conservation and the tourism sector along the coastal region.
Governor Timamy said that plastics are a major threat to the survival of mangroves, “yet mangroves are part of the ecosystems that ensure the survival of fisheries which in returns sustains livelihoods of the fisherfolk.”
The Governor said that biodiversity conservation holds key “to maintaining healthy coastal ecosystems and the success of the Blue Economy,” said the governor during that meeting that aims to ensure Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and Aquatic Biodiversity conservation in order to contribute to the political, socio-economic and ecological aspirations of Africa Agenda 2063.
He noted that in order to enhance economic growth, there is need to promote sustainable tourism, fisheries and aquaculture among other activities so as to create jobs and generate income for local communities.