The Government of Sierra Leone recognizes the threats to the coastal and marine environment from anthropogenic sources as well as from global climate change which is one of the biggest challenges of our generation that threatens the natural resource base of the country. The State of the Marine Environment (SOME) report highlights the threats to our marine environment and underscores resources exploitation as one of the primary causes leading to the degradation of our marine and coastal environment. Without immediate and concerted efforts, it will be impossible for the present and succeeding generations to achieve sustainable development. Overexploitation of natural resources from the coastal and marine areas is one of the greatest threat to the marine environment. This is predicated on overwhelming dependence by rural and coastal communities on such resources in the face of limited alternative livelihoods. The Government has noted such issues that require priority attention such as potential threats of invasive species, coastal erosion, pollution control, increasing uncontrolled coastal development leading to habitat degradation and changing land-use patterns, and climate change.
However we remain committed to reverse the resultant environmental degradation and to address the identified trans-boundary issues as demonstrated by the participation of Sierra Leone in the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (GCLME) projects and the ratification of the Abidjan Convention.
The Government of Sierra Leone is already developing and implementing improved management strategies in order to mainstream environmental concerns into national policies, programmes and projects, regulatory, and institutional mechanisms that are critical to achieving environmental sustainability. These include improvements in many of the regulations governing the marine environment and designation of Marine Protected Areas. Government also recognizes that improved regulations also require focused enforcement efforts to assist in sustaining gains in environmental protection, rebuilding fish stocks, conserving biodiversity and maximizing the long-term benefits of the goods and services provided by the ecosystem.
The current SoME report is part of the regular process in assessing the state of the global marine environment. This assessment is also in response to the identified threats facing the country’s coastal and marine environment and attempts to address the causes and effects of such threats and other emerging issues.
It is important to note that the vulnerability of the coastal and marine areas and associated risks from unsustainable resources exploitation need adequate and robust strategies that will effectively address the current trend in coastal and marine degradation in making blue growth a reality.
My government remains committed to providing the political leadership towards addressing the issues and challenges confronting the marine and coastal environments of Sierra Leone.
Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma
The President of Sierra Leone