CURRENT CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON NIGERIA’S BLUE ECONOMY
The blue economy plays a vital role in the nation’s economic development; however, the blue economy is facing numerous challenges due to the impact of climate change.
Firstly, rising sea temperatures have resulted in significant changes in marine ecosystems. The Nigerian coastline, spanning over 853 kilometres, is home to diverse marine species and coral reefs. However, increased water temperatures have led to the bleaching and eventual death of corals, resulting in the loss of critical habitat for marine organisms. This loss of biodiversity has severe implications for the fishing industry, as many species rely on these reefs for food and breeding grounds.
Secondly, climate change has brought about alterations in ocean currents and precipitation patterns, which are adversely affecting the productivity of Nigerian waters. The blue economy relies heavily on the abundance of fish stocks, and these stocks are significantly influenced by oceanographic conditions. Disruptions in ocean currents are causing fish migration patterns to become unpredictable, posing challenges for fishermen and resulting in reduced catches. Furthermore, the shifting rainfall patterns are impacting the freshwater inflow into rivers and estuaries, which in turn affects the breeding and survival of fish species that depend on these habitats.
Additionally, Nigeria is experiencing a rise in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as storms, and floods. These events have devastating consequences for coastal communities and infrastructure, including community displacement, property loss, and disruptions to economic activities. Coastal erosion caused by these events further degrades the resilience of the blue economy, rendering coastal areas vulnerable to future climate impacts.
The rising acidity levels in the oceans, a phenomenon referred to as ocean acidification, represent a significant concern for Nigeria’s blue economy. This phenomenon is driven by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which are absorbed by seawater, causing it to become more acidic. This acidification has detrimental effects on the development and viability of marine life, such as shellfish, crustaceans, and other organisms that rely on calcium carbonate structures. The diminishing populations of these marine species pose a potential threat to Nigeria’s aquaculture sector, jeopardizing both economic prosperity and food security.
Overall, current climate change impacts on Nigeria’s blue economy are multifaceted and pose significant challenges to the sustainability of ocean-based industries. The effects range from loss of biodiversity and reduced fish stocks to extreme weather events and ocean acidification. Urgent action is required to develop and implement adaptation and mitigation strategies to ensure the resilience and sustainability of Nigeria’s blue economy in the face of climate change.