Few readers will have heard the term “Western Indian Ocean”. Yet, this 30 million square km of ocean off the coasts of ten east and southern African countries supports some 60 million people living within 100 km of the shore.
The annual economic output of the ocean is estimated to come fourth in line behind the region’s biggest economies – South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. It produces more than $20.8 billion in goods and services every year.
But the health of the ocean is approaching a turning point. Many principal ocean assets are declining as a result of exploitation. And this is happening at a time when the use of ocean resources to support growth is accelerating.
So a key question is: can the ocean economy in the Western Indian Ocean grow and support those countries’ aspirations in coming decades?
Remarkable and sobering findings, and possible answers, are contained in a new report. It was led by the World Wildlife Fund, the Boston Consulting Group and CORDIO (Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean East Africa) East Africa.