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Coastal Oceans

The status of marine biodiversity in the Eastern Central Atlantic (West and Central Africa)


1. The status of marine biodiversity in the Eastern Central Atlantic (ECA), especially of coastal and pelagic fishes, is of concern owing to a number of threats including overharvesting, habitat loss, pollution, and climate change combined with inadequate policy responses, legislation, and enforcement. 2. This study provides the first comprehensive documentation of the presence, status, and level of extinction risk, based on IUCN Red List assessment methodology, for more than 1800 marine species, including all taxonomically described marine vertebrates (marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, fishes); complete clades of selected marine invertebrates (sea cucumbers, cone snails, cephalopods, lobsters, reef‐building corals); and marine plants (mangroves, seagrasses). 3. Approximately 8% of all marine species assessed in the ECA are in threatened categories, while 4% are listed as Near Threatened, 73% are Least Concern, and 15% are Data Deficient. Fisheries and over harvesting are the biggest threats to living marine resources in the ECA, with 87% of threatened species across all taxonomic groups affected by both large‐ and small‐scale targeted fisheries, excessive capture as by‐catch, or unsustainable harvest. 4. The results of this study will transform the current state of knowledge and increase capacity for regional stakeholders to identify and enact marine conservation and research priorities, as a number of species are identified as having high conservation and/or research priorities in the region. 5. Through the process of marine species data collection and risk assessments conducted over the past 5 years, several key conservation actions and research needs are identified to enable more effective conservation of marine biodiversity in the ECA, including increased governance, multilateral collaboration, taxonomic training, and improved reporting of fisheries catch and effort.

Name of Author(s):
Beth A. Polidoro1,2 | Gina M. Ralph2 | Kyle Strongin1 | Michael Harvey2 | Kent E. Carpenter2 | Rachel Arnold3 | Jack R. Buchanan2 | Khairdine Mohamed Abdallahi Camara4 | Bruce B. Collette5 | Mia T. Comeros‐Raynal2,6 | Godefroy De Bruyne7 | Ofer Gon8 | Antony S. Harold9 | Heather Harwell10 | Percival A. Hulley8 | Tomio Iwamoto11 | Steen W. Knudsen12 | Jean de Dieu Lewembe13 | Christi Linardich2 | Kenyon C. Lindeman14 | Vanda Monteiro15 | Thomas Munroe5 | Francis K.E. Nunoo16 | Caroline M. Pollock17 | Stuart Poss11 | Barry Russell18 | Catherine Sayer17 | Aboubacar Sidibe19 | William Smith‐Vaniz20 | Emilie Stump21 | Mor Sylla22 | Luis Tito De Morais23 | Jean‐Christophe Vié24 | Akanbi Williams25
Institutional Affiliation:
1School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Arizona State University, Glendale, AZ, USA; 2IUCN Marine Biodiversity Unit, Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA; 3Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, WA, USA; 4Mauritanian Institute of Oceanographic Research and Fisheries, Nouadhibou, Mauritania; 5National Marine Fisheries Service, Systematics Laboratory, Washington, DC, USA; 6American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency, American Samoa; 7Wildlife Conservation Society, Paris, France; 8South African Museum, Cape Town, South Africa; 9Grice Marine Lab, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA; 10Christopher Newport University, Newport News, VA, USA; 11California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA, USA; 12Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; 13Direction Générale des Pêches et de l'Aquaculture, Libreville, Gabon; 14lorida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL, USA; 15Instituto Nacional de Desenvolvimento das Pescas, Cape Verde; 16Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana; 17IUCN Red List Unit, Cambridge, UK; 18Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia; 19Independent Consultant, Conakry, Guinea; 20Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; 21University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada; 22Centre de Recherches Océanographiques de Dakar‐Thiaroye, Dakar, Senegal; 23Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement, Brest, France; 24IUCN Global Species Programme, Gland, Switzerland; 25Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, Lagos, Nigeria
Type of Publication:
Technical Report
Name of Publisher or Journal:
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Date of Publication:
2014
Number of Pages:
14