The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. How we manage this vital resource is essential for humanity as a whole, and to counterbalance the effects of climate change.
On the 25th of March, 2021, One Health and Development Initiative (OHDI) hosted a Webinar with stakeholders in Conservation and Environmental Management on the topic “Promoting Stakeholder Action on Ocean Conservation – One Health Approach”. The meeting was officially launched by the Webinar Moderator, Dr. Kikiope Oluwarore-Isedowo, the Executive Director of OHDI in which she officially welcomed everyone, provided a brief statementon the purpose of the meeting, and introduced the guest speakers.
The first speaker was Madam Ngozi Margaret Oguguah, a Researcher at the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Ocean Conservation Advocate and Environmental Specialist. She presented a lecture on the topic “Ocean Conservation Action in Nigeria, Challenges and the way forward”. She started with a brief definition and introduction to ocean conservation, describing it as the protection and preservation of ecosystems in oceans and seas through planned management to prevent over-exploitation of the resources in the sea and oceans. She then proceeded to highlight the major marine conservation issues in Nigeria which included ocean dumping of waste materials, plastic pollution, unsustainable fishing, habitat destruction, and oil spillage among others; and further discussed their impact on our ecosystems. Madam Ngozi then concluded her lecture by sharing possible solutions to improving and promoting ocean conservation in Nigeria. These included;
- An emphasis on extensive advocacy, sensitization and outreach programs on endangered species such as dolphins, African manatees, turtles, for people in the coastal communities
- Consistent beach clean-ups and introduction of waste to wealth programs in coastal communities,
- Research on varied oceanographic processes to understand the best way to conserve the environment
- Promotion of policy advocacy and government accountability on important laws and policy provisions that should promote ocean conservation in Nigeria
Immediately after, the second speaker – Dr. Nnamdi H. Amaeze, who is a Lecturer at the University of Lagos and the President of Society for Environmental Toxicology and Pollution Mitigation proceed to give his talk on the topic “The One Heath Approach to Ocean Conservation in Nigeria”. Dr. Amaze started his discussion by defining One Health as an approach that recognizes that the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals and their shared environment. He discussed the increasing importance of One Health concept explaining the fact that human populations are growing and expanding into new geographic areas, which is leading to closer interactions with wild and domestic animals, and in turn, increasing the risk of rapid spread of diseases across animal and human health around the globe.
He then provided details on Nigeria’s coastal environment especially it’s association with the North Atlantic Ocean and the reliance of coastal communities’ on seas, creeks and rivers for sources of water and livelihood. Dr. Amaeze further stated the need for the ocean conservation due to the millions of both known and undiscovered species which sustain the viability of ocean and marine ecosystems. He cited opportunities for the coastal community and its stakeholders, stating that the seas can be utilized for sustainable fisheries, medicine, recreation and socio-cultural ventures. He then discussed how the One Health approach can be utilized for sustainable ocean resource conservation in the Nigeria’s coastal environments and encouraged cross-collaboration with multi-disciplinary efforts among relevant professionals to promote good ocean conservation practices.
After a robust Question and Answer session following both presentations, Dr. Temitope Sogbanmu provided discussed the Ocean Conservation Education Manual, providing a brief on the process of developing the manual and its intended use of disseminating ocean conservation in Nigeria’s coastal communities. This was followed by a feedback from webinar participants some of who committed to pursuing collaborations with One Health and Development Initiative for disseminating the manual to relevant communities in future project expansions to coastal communities.
In conclusion, the moderator Dr. Kikiope Oluwarore gave a summary of the meeting outcomes and appreciated all the stakeholders who had been present.