Water Pollution Control and Biodiversity Conservation in the Gulf of Guinea Large Marine Ecosystem (GOGLME)
The concept of "integrated coastal zone management" (ICZM) supports regional transboundary level programmes, such as the GEF-Gulf of Guinea Large Marine Ecosystem (GOG-LME) Programme, for inter-governmental bodies. Also, recent economic studies have placed a higher value on coastal zones than any other sector of the environment. In the Gulf of Guinea coastal area, 80 million inhabitants are directly dependent on the fisheries, habitat, and energy resources of the region.
The GOG-LME, (the northern subsystem of the Guinea Current LME -GC-LME-) is thermally unstable and characterized by intensive seasonal upwellings. The southern half, which is generally thermally stable, depends on nutrient input, originating from land drainage, river flood and turbulent diffusion, although less intensive and periodic upwellings have been reported. These characteristics combine to make this area one of the world's most productive marine regions. It is rich in fishery resources, petroleum production and is also an important global region of marine biological diversity.
The large human population inhabiting the coastal zone of the GOG-LME is heavily dependent on the lagoons, estuaries, creeks and inshore waters surrounding them. Rivers and lagoons serve as important waterways for the transportation of goods and people. They are also important sources of animal protein in the form of fish and shellfish. Unfortunately, pollution from residential and industrial sources affected the waters of the Gulf of Guinea, resulting in habitat degradation, loss of biological diversity and productivity, and degenerating human health. Also, extensive urbanization and cutting of the coastal mangrove forests caused enormous loss of usage of coastal land, and extensive coastal erosion. Energy production (oil and gas) that contributes immensely to the GNP of the countries in the region is also causing large scale environmental perturbations to coastal areas in Cameroon, Nigeria, and recently in Benin, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. Consequently, the Gulf of Guinea Large Marine Ecosystem (GOG-LME) is an ecosystem under extreme stress.
The region made a substantial commitment to the GOG-LME project to extend the present Gulf of Guinea project from six countries to 10 additional countries bordering on the Guinea Current LME, and to assist these countries in making changes in the ways that human activities are conducted in the different sectors to ensure that the GC-LME and its multi-country drainage basins can support in a sustainable manner the socio-economic development of the region.