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Topics with scopes at the regional or landscape level or demand an explicitly regional approach in coordination.

Western Indian Ocean: Conservation and Climate Change Adaptation

The Western Indian Ocean region presents challenges that are different from other regions with similar initiatives/challenges. There have been many discussions in the past to ensure better coordination of marine and coastal activities across the region with varying degrees of success. Individual countries have tended to focus on national priorities for coastal management, rather than prioritizing regional partnerships and collaboration. In addition, many regional initiatives have not been adequately linked to national priorities and processes, and as a result have had difficulty in sustaining their actions over the long term.

Through regional frameworks such as the Nairobi Convention and Indian Ocean Commission, integrated management of coastal and marine resources has been identified as a common concern for all the south west islands of the Indian Ocean and the coastal countries of East Africa. The marine and coastal ecosystems of these countries share common characteristics. Their respective coastal environments are under similar human pressures and are experiencing the effects of similar natural phenomena in the region, including climate change, the influence of marine currents at the south of the Equator and the impacts of monsoon winds or cyclones which particularly affect the island countries. Collaboration between institutions, information exchange and the sharing of experience and resource management tools will enhance regional cooperation and economic integration. Moreover, the majority of fishers in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region are small-scale operators working from shore. Climate change poses risks to their fishing operations on many fronts, from shifts in species distributions and productivity, to changes in ocean chemistry that affect ecosystem health, to more extreme weather events that destroy infrastructure and productive assets. Small-scale fishers can adapt to climate variability by shifting location, species caught, or levels of investment in fishing and competing options, but these individual responses will not be sufficient to boost food security across the region. Development programs have generally poorly served small-scale fisheries, and fishing communities have often excluded from coastal planning and resource management.

At the national and regional levels, fisheries are under pressure from increased harvesting rates, inequitable and poorly governed trading relations with external and global markets, and ever-greater pressures from competing uses. Furthermore, market chains for many species are not well characterized and trade policy and the costs of adapting to climate change have not been evaluated. Management measures to maintain fish stock and environments are often weak, and undermine the ability to construct climate-resilient fisheries systems. Better integration of small-scale fisheries into development processes, climate change adaptation investments, fisheries and coastal governance and knowledge systems can all help to improve the living and working conditions of fishers, and reduce their vulnerability to economic hardship.

In a response to this context, the nation states of the region and their partners, including WCS, WWF, CI and TNC, are in the process of launching the Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge as a call to action focused on integrated marine and coastal management that builds on the efforts of the Nairobi Convention, WIO/LAB Strategic Plan, and the Indian Ocean Commissions efforts to put into place Integrated Coastal Zone Management Action Plans and Locally Management Marine Areas (LMMA) at the country level. The proposed overall goal is: Coastal economies and communities sustained by safeguarding the regions vulnerable marine and coastal ecosystems

Activities & Achievements

FY2012 Activities and Accomplishments

The objective of this ABCG support is to undertake a stocktaking exercise to identify gaps, opportunities, and lessons learned for marine and coastal resources conservation and management, including climate vulnerability and adaptation, in the Western Indian Ocean.

Additional Resources