Ocean acidification in Africa

A major food fish in African coastal communities, parrotfish such as these rely on healthy coral reefs that could disappear in an acidifying ocean.

Ocean chemistry is rapidly changing

A healthy ocean provides many human services: food, medicine, cultural practices; income from commercial fisheries and tourism; and, coral reefs for coastal storm protection.

In an acidifying ocean, corals are struggling to maintain skeletons that create reefs. Lobsters, oysters, urchins, and many phyo- and zoo-plankton species that build skeletons also suffer from this stress, disrupting the marine food web.

Coastal communities in Africa are being impacted

Many African countries rely heavily on the sea for economic, social, and nutritional services. However, ocean acidification has the potential to negatively affect those marine ecosystems. The losses would be alarming for the African continent. Fisheries and aquaculture currently contribute USD $24 billion to the economy in Africa, employing more than 12 million people across the continent. The fisheries sector is particularly important for rural coastal African populations, which are among the most vulnerable in terms of both food and job security. Due to the growing population and per capita income, demand for fish in Africa is expected to increase 30% by 2030. Ocean acidification, combined with other climatic drivers, may make it difficult to satisfy this need.

Ocean acidification research demands unique local, national, and regional responses

Addressing and mitigating ocean acidification will require a drastic decrease in global CO2 emissions, but it is possible to develop local adaptive solutions to increase ecosystem resilience by addressing specific societal coastal community priorities. Strategic ocean acidification data are critical for the development and implementation of such solutions, including the identification of ocean acidification hot spots.

Ramessur R. T., Shaltou N., Sherif S., Bantelman A., Eakes T., Swarzenski P, Dupont S., Ferse S., Kelsey H. & Ziveri P., 2021. Ocean acidification in Africa. The Ocean Acidification Africa Hub, Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON), The Ocean Foundation, International Atomic Energy Agency-Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (IAEA OA-ICC) & Future Earth Coasts. Report.

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