Law and Effect
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Chapter 6: The Baltic Sea- Hermanni Backer with DiMento and Hickman
6. The West and Central African Seas PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS The West and Central African region (WACAF) is made up of 22 countries, a majority located on the coast. WACAF nations rely heavily on their coastal resources for livelihoods and economy. The region is characterized by a diverse economy based on coastal tourism, fishing, and industry. West and Central Africa’s coastal area supports a population of approximately 326.2 million people and has a coastline of about 8421 miles (UNEP 2002). A majority of the region’s densely populated capital cities are located on the coast, with the exception of Cameroon. The economics of non-coastal nations like Niger and Chad also depend significantly on resources and/or trade from marine resources. Shipping and transportation of goods movement inland from the coast place a heavy burden on the coastal environment. Within the marine areas of the Atlantic Ocean that border West and Central Africa are four distinct ocean currents. They exhibit vastly differing environmental conditions, water temperatures, and material content. These oceanic upwellings include the Canary Current, the Gulf of Guinea Current, the Benguela Current, and the Agulhas Current. Until recently, the waters supported great biodiversity and a wide array of species with plentiful fish stocks. There are rich coral communities near the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana, Gabon and The Cape Verde Islands. The Canary Current supports fish stocks of sardine, sardinella, anchovy, chub mackerel and horse mackerel. Its neighbor, the Benguela Current, also has significant biodiversity: fish, seabirds, crustaceans, and marine mammals (Heileman and...
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