Figure 2: Coastal populations and shoreline degradation Africa’s marine and coastal resources have traditionally supported livelihoods through subsistence fisheries, agriculture and trading. Nowadays, the coastal areas are the locus of rapid urban and industrial growth, oil and gas development, industrial-scale fisheries and tourism (Figure 2). While there is a general trend of population increase in the coastal areas, the coastal cities are the principal growth nodes. It has been estimated that by 2025 the coastal zone from Accra to the Niger delta could be an unbroken chain of cities, with a total population of 50 million along 500 km of coastline (Hatziolos and others 1996, Figure 2). Much of the region’s heavy industry, including most refineries and gas liquefaction plants, is sited at coastal locations, along with terminal facilities for tankers and undersea pipelines, and bases for offshore engineering services.

Figure 3: International tourism receipts in African coastal countries, 1990 and 2003 The natural coastal assets have supported a growth in tourism, with substantial economic benefits including the creation of many jobs for men and women. Tourism has become a big employer and source of income, notably in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Mauritius and South Africa (Figure 3). Many countries are set to further develop their coastal tourism, with an increasing market for eco- and cultural tourism. Tourism revenues were expected to grow by 5 to 10 per cent in 2005, and annually, in real terms, by about 5 per cent between 2006 and 2015 (WTTC 2005). Much of this growth is likely to be coastal. Coral reefs are a major ecotourism attraction. There are opportunities for involving indigenous coastal communities in ecotourism, improving their well-being as well as contributing to national economies. In some countries – particularly some SIDS – tourism with its related services is already the largest employer and the tourism economy makes the largest contribution to Gross National Product (GNP) (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Travel and tourism economies as percentages of Gross Domestic Product 2005 for selected SIDS and Gambia Artisanal fisheries are the mainstay of coastal communities’ livelihoods around much of Africa’s coastline, employing mostly men operating in small, undecked boats. Some countries, such as Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Ghana and Senegal, have offshore industrial fishing fleets which employ mostly men, while men and women are engaged in the preparation of fish products onshore, as in the tuna canneries of Ghana, Seychelles and Mauritius. Intertidal harvesting for shellfish or maricultured seaweed, as in Tanzania, is carried out by women.

Figure 5: Reported marine fish capture in African sub-regions since 1980 The extent to which coastal communities, and their countries, benefit from fisheries resources varies greatly, as shown in Figure 5. The resources are exploited by industrial as well as artisanal fleets, the former comprising local and foreign-flag vessels. Where the artisanal sector is strong, as on the Atlantic coast, all vessels operate in about the same areas, targeting similar species, and this often leads to conflict between artisanal and industrial fleets. Cases of poaching and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing by vessels from outside the region are common, the latter jeopardizing the catches of local, small-scale fishers with serious consequences for food security and income. Increases in industrial-scale fishing over the last decade or so have impacted adversely on artisanal fisheries, already stressed through population pressure by overharvesting and the use of unsustainable fishing methods. Generally, artisanal fisheries are showing decreasing returns per fishing effort and reductions in the sizes of fish caught.

Countries whose EEZs extend into the areas of oceanic upwelling in the Atlantic LMEs tend to be major, industrial producers of marine fish, much of it taken by foreign fleets under access agreements. In Eastern Africa, Somalia could benefit from the rich fisheries of the Somali Current upwelling, but much of its production is captured illegally (Coffen-Smout 1988). In the Western Indian Ocean, fisheries contribute significantly to all national economies, with stocks including tuna exploited under licence by foreign fleets. Fish processing and transhipment provides additional employment and revenue (UNEP 2004). In Mozambique and Tanzania, estuarine prawn fisheries make an important economic contribution (UNEP 2001). In the Mediterranean, where foreign industrial fleets are becoming prevalent, there may still be some scope for increased production, but at the expense of the size of fish caught (Alm 2002). Total reported marine fish capture continues to increase, with nearly 5 million t recorded in 2003 (Figure 5, FAO 2005). In the last three decades, imports of fish and fishery products by African countries exceeded the exports of the same in quantity, although the gap is gradually decreasing. Conversely, export values were far in excess of import values. This is because many African countries import large quantities of low-grade species, like mackerel and sardinellas, and export high- grade species like shrimps and snappers, and other demersal species.

Aquaculture makes important contributions to the livelihoods of coastal dwellers in Egypt, particularly fish from the brackish water lagoons of the Nile delta. In Zanzibar, Tanzania, seaweed farming has become important, improving livelihoods particularly of women. Few countries have seized the opportunities of aquaculture, although considerable potential exists across the region (MA 2005). For sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), it is estimated that less than 5 per cent of the potential has been utilized, contributing less than 0.2 per cent to world aquaculture production.

In addition to fishery resources, coastal and marine ecosystems provide important services. Coral reefs and their associated sea-grass meadows and mangrove forests, and other coastal wetlands, provide nursery areas and shelter for a host of animals, both marine and terrestrial, as well as protection against inundation and erosion by marine storm surges and extreme waves (Figure 1). Mangrove forests act as chemical cleansing buffers, absorbing land- sourced pollutants, and they also have cultural and medicinal values. Beaches and dune systems provide coast protection as well as sites for nesting and breeding.

Offshore oil and gas development is making substantial contributions to national economies, providing jobs for men, though many of these are short- term. With the engagement of industry and effective national governance, the benefits to coastal communities and the protection of coastal and marine ecosystems could be substantially improved. In many countries, hydrocarbon development is supplying growing domestic and transnational energy markets. The value of the resources to national economies is difficult to estimate because of the volatile nature of the global energy market and the nature of specific licensing arrangements. The sums involved are potentially huge. But these resources are finite and the income generated from their production cannot be sustainable over the long term. The alluvial mineral resources of Southern Africa are similarly finite, and these too make substantial economic contributions.