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EPA holds regional strategy validation meeting

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The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA has ended a two-day West African Regional Strategy Validation meeting on Sargassum Seaweed and Coastal Invasive Species in Monrovia. EPA Executive Director, Madam Anyaa Vohiri says the meeting will help to provide scientific, professional and policy advice to address most of the environmental related issues Liberia is currently faced with.

Speaking Tuesday, August 9, at the first day of the meeting held at a local hotel in Sinkor, she says most pressing and policy-wise, there are recommendations for transboundary cooperation and interagency collaboration as well as stakeholders’ participation where role and responsibilities of relevant partners in the maritime domain are clearly spelt, and the implementation of agreed strategies across coastal West Africa.

Madam Vohiri said the fact that Liberia was selected to host the two-day meeting signals a huge boost for the country and the EPA, which happens to be the Environmental arm of the Government of Liberia.

She also disclosed that a full curriculum has been developed for universities and colleges on marine environment and environmental protection and integrated coastal zone management.
The EPA Executive Director indicated that sargassum is free brown seaweed that blossoms naturally in the warm waters of the Sargasso Sea of the Northern Atlantic Ocean.
She added that since 2011 there has been an explosion in the quantities of sargassum reaching the shores of countries of the Caribbean and West Africa, inflicting severe ecological and socio-economic impacts, particularly to the tourism sector and coastal fishing activities.

She furthered that an unprecedented influx of sargassum seaweed is being attributed to factors that include warming of the ocean due to global climate change, discharge of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from agriculture runoff and wastewater originating from point sources and from major river basins such as the Congo and Amazon Rivers, and the deposition of iron and nutrient-rich Sahara dust on the ocean.

The EPA boss says the meeting sought to develop existing outline regional strategy for validation in order to formulate a policy recommendation for the elaboration of an additional protocol to the Abidjan Convention on the management of invasive species.

-By Zee RobertsEditing by Jonathan Browne

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