Stretching from Mauritania to Guinea, the waters off the coast of West Africa are rich in marine life. But decades of commercial fishing are depleting valuable local fisheries and affecting the lives of millions of people who depend on the sea.
From rocky cliffs and broad sandy beaches to extensive sea grass prairies and dense mangrove forests, West Africa's coastline is diverse as it is extensive.
The beaches of Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal are important nesting sites for 5 marine turtle species. And millions of migrating birds from Europe feed along the coast before beginning their homeward trek in the northern spring.
Offshore in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, over 1,000 species of fish are found as well as dolphins, whales and seals. Extensive cold-water coral reefs encompass the archipelago of Cape Verde.
West Africa is one of the most diverse, and economically important, fishing zones in the world.