Africa News Liberia: EPA Boss Nathaniel Blama Calls for Regional Effort...

Liberia: EPA Boss Nathaniel Blama Calls for Regional Effort in Mitigating Ocean Pollution, Preventing Illegal Fishing


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Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Nathaniel Blama

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Monrovia – The Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency has challenged stakeholders and policy makers in the West African region and beyond to exercise the willpower in combating climate change and protecting the marine ecosystem.

Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh 00231777769531 / 00231880881540 / [email protected]

Mr. Blama,
who chairs the National Steering Committee of the ongoing Blue Ocean Conference
in Monrovia in his official opening remarks on Wednesday, March 20 vowed that
in the coming days, stakeholders including local and international experts
attending the conference will discuss new and tangible ways to monitor and
address climate change and marine pollution.

 “We are going to examine innovative means to
mitigating the flow of pollution from land to ocean; and we will continue to
outline further plans for the West African community to come together to
preserve our fish stocks and prevent illegal fishing,” Blama vowed.

To achieve
these goals, Blama however noted that it requires the collective effort and the
willpower by decision makers.

“The bottom
line is that none of what we are working toward is not beyond our capacity.
This is not a question what we do, this is a question of the willpower to do
what we know we can do. And if we make the right choices, if we set the right
priorities, if we respond timely to the same understanding that saving our
ocean isn’t just an option but an absolute necessity, we will get there,” he

The Blue
Ocean Conference, the first to be held in the West African region is organized
through a joint effort of the Government of Liberia, the Embassy of Sweden near
Monrovia and Conservation International (CI) with funding for the Swedish

It comes at a time the country is combating a plethora of environmental phenomenal including climate change that is resulting to rising ocean tides and leading to rapid sea erosion; compounded with human induced environmental shenanigans such as marine pollution caused by disposal of toxic waste, ocean acidification and illegal fishing.

Beaches in
Monrovia and other settlements are often used as latrines and dumpsites where
non-biodegradable substance such as plastic, fishing nets and other chemicals
are disposed.

says by bringing together an array of experts in science, policy, management,
communication, and public engagements from across the country, region, and
globe, Liberia will be making a statement that the oceans matter and Liberia is
leading the way in ocean stewardship in the region.

The conference
“offers an opportunity to raise awareness, increase care and concern, fundraise
for and develop partnerships around improving Liberia and West Africa’s ocean

 It Specifically supports the implementation of
2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and the United Nations’ Sustainable
Development Goal 14, as a follow-up to the UN Ocean Conference held in June
2017 and the Blue Economy Conference held in Nairobi in 2018.

importantly, this conference will demonstrate a strategy for aligning national,
regional, and local priorities related to sustainable use of ocean resources.
We strongly believe that this will be a catalyst for meaningful change in the
oceans of West Africa,” a statement from the committee said.

Also speaking
at the official opening ceremony, the Acting Swedish Ambassador to Liberia,
Elisabeth Harleman pledged her government’s support to Liberia and noted that Sweden
has committed to support Liberia with more than US$130 million for the period
2016 to 2020 toward peace and nation building including strengthening public
institutions and natural resource management.

She furthered
that Sweden’s effort in promoting a blue economy and the achievement of the
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals #14 include supporting and
organizing of the New York 2017 conference.

In addition,
she added that Sweden, along with Germany and France is contributing US$70
million to the Blue Action Fund which seeks to expand and improve marine
protected areas and support sustainable livelihood.

International’s Liberia Country Director, Jessica Donovan-Allen asserted that
the organization is bringing its global expertise to work in ten coastal
communities in Liberia to create sustainable livelihoods, fisheries, and
mangrove conservation.

“We are
working to reverse harmful cycles and find sustainable alternatives,” she said.

In her
passionate speech, she noted that as a daughter of a fisherman, she is aware of
the value of Costal Conservation, adding: “My family’s livelihood rose and fell
with the tide, but it was—and it remains—the action or inaction of businesses,
governments, and policymakers that most affect the relationship between oceans
and the people connected to them through their livelihoods.”

Donavan-Allen noted that Liberia has one of the last remaining in-tact coastal
ecosystems in the region and called for a concerted effort in conserving it.

She lamented
that “as Liberia’s beaches are used as dumpsites and bathrooms, as plastics
wash ashore, as fish stocks are decimated by chemicals, dynamite, and mosquito
nets, If we lose these natural resources, how do we not also lose ourselves?”

She then
pledged CI support to Liberia’s fight in conserving ensuring a blue ocean and
added that all stakeholders have an imperative to reverse mismanagement. 
“We need to find and
scale alternatives that are currently unavailable to 70 percent of Liberia’s
population living along this coastline. It must act on national policies for
sustainable development. It will determine the health of costal ecosystems and
thus its fisheries, the Blue Economy, and its prosperity.”

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