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Sierra Leone News: Coastal Areas are exposed to environmental risks- EPA boss

seaThe Executive Director of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Madam Haddijatou Jallow, on Thursday said most areas along our coastline are exposed to environmental risks.
She was speaking at the official opening of the validation workshop of the draft Reports: Coastal Sensitivity Mapping and the State of the Marine Environment at the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources conference hall.
The EPA Executive Director added , these two projects; “The State of The Marine Environment Reporting and the Marine and Coastal Oil spill sensitivity mapping”, were initiated in 2014, and frantic efforts have been made with support from experts and partners.
She emphasized that both the coastal oil spill sensitivity mapping and the assessment on the State of the Marine and Coastal Environment are key resource management tools that have the potential to enhance our knowledge on the essential steps in addressing the problems they face.
Madam Jallow said, the State of the Marine Environment Reporting is being undertaken in the framework of the Abidjan Convention, to which Sierra Leone is a signatory. “The Oil spill sensitivity mapping on the other hand is carried out to contribute to the development of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan for Sierra Leone”.
The Executive Director reiterated that, in 2013, Sierra Leone was selected as one of the six pilot countries to benefit from the Technical Assistance from Grid Arendal in undertaking this assessment, using the newly- developed online reporting system to report on the state of the marine environment.
She stated that while the marine and coastal oil spill sensitivity mapping, presents effective planning tools to curb ecological losses associated with oil spills and general marine pollution and degradation, a State of the Marine Environment report can serve as a baseline for introducing an effective coastal management regime that will support most sector strategic plans and guidelines for the oil and gas sector.
These two processes remain key tools in integrated coastal zone management. “I therefore plead with all stakeholders to take necessary actions in protecting and managing the coastal and marine environment for the benefit for us all.  We cannot achieve sustainable development, if we ignore the coastal and marine areas which house multitude of resources that provide socio-economic, cultural and ecosystem services.
She thanked their partners, the Regional Partnership for Marine and Coastal Conversation in Africa, the Wetlands International Africa, United Nations Development Programmes, Center for Ecological Monitoring and the Grid Arendal of Norway for their unflinching financial and technical supports”.
In his statement, Director of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Alhaji Cole, said “the marine and coastal environment has been under severe pressure from population growth, unsustainable resources exploitation and inadequate waste management systems”.
He said in Sierra Leone, over 10% of our estimated six million people depend directly or indirectly on the exploitation of living and non-living marine resources for their livelihood and socio-economic wellbeing, while another estimated 60% of the population depends on agriculture, particularly slash and burn agriculture.
The Director stated that, production and management of wastes from all above socio-economic activities (both on land and in the marine-based environment) remains a challenge in Sierra Leone, particularly in urban settlements and this has huge impact on the quality of our marine environment.
Cole said, already there are signs of over exploitation of some of our marine resources, including fisheries and mangroves, and also signs of climate change, global warming and sea level rise and these trends continue unchecked,” we would witness the collapse or depletion of such resources and the offset of ecological balance, which is in turn threaten our very survival on planet earth”, he concluded.
The Geographic Information Systems (GIS ) Manager, Samuel Kamara, who made a  power-point presentation  the Coastal Sensitivity Mapping: Objectives, methodology and results.
By Abibatu Kamara
Friday January 23, 2015

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