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Charles Sheppard


The coastal zone of Nigeria stretches approximately 853 km, and has four geomorphic units and a 210,900 km2 Exclusive Economic Zone. The Niger Delta geomorphic unit is longest (450 km), apparently the richest in biodiversity and mineral resources. The Niger Delta has Africa’s largest expanse of mangroves, which are major breeding and nursery grounds for many commercially important fin and shellfishes, and is rich in biodiversity in the Gulf of Guinea. However, the region’s mangroves are among the most degraded and less conserved. Artisanal and industrial operators exploit fish stocks unsustainably under ineffective regulatory regimes, but sustainable aquaculture is a viable option to close the wide fish demand-supply deficit. The rich wildlife of the coastal zone is heavily exploited, including endemics, despite piecemeal laws that seek to protect threatened and endangered species. There are an estimated 37.4 billion barrels of crude oil and 187 tcf of natural gas reserves in the Niger Delta, and crude oil currently accounts for 90% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings. Oil production activities in the Niger Delta are a major source of land- and marine-based pollution of the coastal zone. Other threats include untreated effluent discharges, reclamation, deforestation, harmful fishing methods, invasive species, and unregulated sand mining. These activities weaken climate resilience, delimit socioeconomic opportunities, and increase coastal erosion vulnerability. The region’s tourism destination potential is also devalued. Meanwhile coastal cities such as Lagos, Warri, and Port Harcourt continue to experience rapid population growth, exacerbated by rural-push and urban-pull factors. Integrated coastal zone management is imperative, and other comanagement regimes, habitat restoration, legal and institutional frameworks, and capacity needs are all required.


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Academic Press


Other Life Sciences | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

Chapter 36 - Nigerian Coastal Environments