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Mar Pollut Bull. 2003;47(1-6):219-25.

Achieving a paradigm shift in environmental and living resources management in the Gulf of Guinea: the large marine ecosystem approach.

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  • 1UNIDO SES/PEM, P.O. Box 300, A-1400, Vienna, Austria. c.ukwe@unido.org

Abstract

The Gulf of Guinea is situated in the narrow protrusion of eastern Equatorial Atlantic between latitudes 2 degrees S and 5 degrees N and longitudes 8 degrees W to 12 degrees E, spanning a coastline length of approximately 130 nautical miles. The dominant feature of this shallow ocean off the coast of countries in Western Africa is the Guinea Current. The distinctive bathymetry, hydrography, productivity and trophodynamics of this shallow ocean qualify it as a large marine ecosystem (LME) and is indeed recognized as the number 28 of the 64 delineated LMEs globally. This area is one of the world's productive marine areas that is rich in fishery resources, oil and gas reserves, precious minerals and an important global reservoir of marine biological diversity. Unfortunately, pollution from residential and industrial sources has affected the waters of the Gulf of Guinea resulting in habitat degradation, loss of biological diversity and productivity, and degenerating human health. In reversing this trend of marine environmental degradation, the countries of the region adopted an integrated and holistic approach using the LME concept to sustainably manage the environmental and living resources of the region. The concept is predicated on the fact that marine environmental pollution and living resources respect no political or geographical boundaries and so require a holistic and regional approach for its management. The Gulf of Guinea countries through the Global Environment facility funded regional/communal project on water pollution control and biodiversity conservation achieved a paradigm shift in living resources and environmental management in the region using the LME concept.

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