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.