The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) in collaboration with the Rivers State University (RSU) organised a workshop tagged “Experts Roundtable on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity” last month at Amphitheater, University campus, Port Harcourt.
The aim of the workshop was to share knowledge and experience on the sustainable management of Nigeria’s marine and coastal zones while identifying gaps in knowledge, policy and practice with respect to the country’s marine and coastal biodiversity.
The workshop was a 2-day gathering of experts who brainstormed and came up with recommendations and elements of a framework for the conservation and sustainable use of the marine and coastal zones of Nigeria. After a brief opening ceremony, a technical background paper was presented to set the scene for discussions in plenary and break-out groups. Participants were encouraged to share information on their existing and planned activities, exchange ideas as well as arrive at collective decisions on the best ways to achieve sustainable development of Nigeria’s coastal and marine habitats.
The Dean, Faculty of Science, RSU, Prof. V. B. Omubo-Pepple in his Welcome Address stated that “Science provides us with the skills to address interdisciplinary questions required for decision-making, behaviour, law and ethics. The complex interactions between people, coastal and marine biodiversity require scientifically informed professionals who can speak in the areas of policy and management, research and advocacy”.
In his Keynote Address, the Director General of NCF, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano stated that, “Nigeria occupies a unique geographic position in Africa and the variability in the marine features endow her with one of the richest biodiversity in the continent. Pressures on marine ecosystems from human activities are already severe and the often-competing demands for marine space and resources are projected to rise. Costs of poor ocean management practices, including environmental and social costs, are often not factored into decision-making processes. This undermines the resilience of the ecosystems upon which we depend, not just for food and income, but also other less visible life-support functions such as coastal protection, habitat provisioning and carbon sequestration. Marine and coastal conservation is one of the policy instruments available to help ensure the conservation and sustainable use of our vast yet vulnerable ecosystems. Significantly greater efforts are needed by all stakeholders especially the government in ensuring the proper management of our marine and coastal ecosystem.”
The Vice Chancellor of the Institution, Prof. Blessing Chimezie Didia, who declared the workshop opened in his Opening Remarks revealed that “Marine and coastal biodiversity of Niger Delta provide food, energy, water, jobs and economic benefits for the people. They are a crucial buffer against climate change and a massive resource for sustainable development. The health of our marine and coastal biodiversity is inextricably linked with the health of our people and all life in Nigeria”
In attendance were Prof. T. T. Isoun, the first Vice Chancellor of the Institution, his wife, Dr. Mariam Isoun, Prof. Augustine Ezealor, the first ornithologist in Nigeria, Prof. Ikem Ekweozor, Marine Dept. RSU, Hon. Christian Ahiakwo, Member, Rivers State House of Assembly, Captain S. S. Garba, representing the Nigerian Navy, Dr. Ebinimi Ansa, representing Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) among others.
The workshop was coordinated by Prof. John Onwuteaka of the Institution and Dr. Joseph Onoja of NCF.