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This content is taken from the National Oceanography Centre's online course, Ocean Science in Action: Addressing Marine Ecosystems and Food Security in the Western Indian Ocean. Join the course to learn more.

Valuing The Invaluable: The Economic Value Of The Western Indian Ocean

As our current economic system ignores or externalizes most environmental costs, the ocean’s benefits are often perceived as being provided for free and are frequently taken for granted.

Unless the ocean’s full contributions are recognized and strong action taken to preserve the natural assets that underpin them, the benefits it provides will diminish rapidly over the decades ahead. Despite the relatively intact coastal and marine ecosystems of the Western Indian Ocean, there are growing signs of distress in many parts of the region.

The areas still in relatively good health owe this to currently low levels of population and economic development, but conditions are changing rapidly as the region’s populations and economies grow and develop. Coral reefs and mangroves are deteriorating from the combined impacts of local use and global threats such as climate change. Important fish stocks are declining due to overfishing and inadequate management. Coastal and urban developments are expanding rapidly with limited planning. (Extract from “Reviving the Western Indian Ocean Economy: Actions for a Sustainable Future”, Obura et al., 2017)

Further Reading:

Obura, D. et al. 2017. Reviving the Western Indian Ocean Economy: Actions for a Sustainable Future. WWF International, Gland, Switzerland. 64 pp


UNEP-Nairobi Convention and WIOMSA (2015). The Regional State of the Coast Report: Western Indian Ocean. UNEP and WIOMSA, Nairobi, Kenya, 546 pp.

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Ocean Science in Action: Addressing Marine Ecosystems and Food Security in the Western Indian Ocean

National Oceanography Centre

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