WINDHOEK – The chairlady of the Benguela Current Commission (BCC) yesterday said increased business opportunities and the likelihood of regional joint ventures are but some of the benefits that the fully ratified convention could hold for citizens of Namibia, Angola and South Africa.
Established in 2007, the BCC, which is a world first in terms of cooperation between countries, has a mandate from the three member countries to promote the integrated management, sustainable development and protection of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME). The BCC is a permanent inter-governmental organisation tasked with ensuring that the industrial development of the ecosystem’s resources progresses in an environmentally responsible manner, and that the countries work together to minimise pollution, harmonise maritime policies, laws and regulations, and monitor and manage fisheries.
Angola’s Minister of Fisheries, Victoria de Barros Neto, who is the current chairlady of the BCC, is on an official visit to Namibia and yesterday met with her Namibian counterpart, Bernard Esau, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
“One of the BCC’s objectives is to strengthen business cooperation between the member countries. The BCC would like to stimulate the creation of joint ventures to create stronger businesses within the fisheries sectors of the member coBuntries,” said Neto through an interpreter. The Angolan fisheries minister added that the three member states have the political will and economic interests to ultimately strengthen the fisheries sector within the region.
However, Namibia is currently the only member of the BCC to have ratified the Benguela Current Convention, which regulates the BCC. Minister Esau yesterday confirmed that Namibia’s ratified BCC document has been deposited with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where it will await implementation. Angola’s Neto meanwhile said Angola and South Africa are endeavouring to have the ratification process completed as soon as possible.
In fact, South Africa’s Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa recently told her country’s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee that Namibia had ratified the Benguela Current Convention and that South Africa and Angola had made a strong commitment also to ratify it.
Once all three countries ratify the convention, it will be the world’s first large marine ecosystem-based conservation commission. The BCC’s executive secretary, Dr Hashali Hamukuaya, said once the convention was ratified, all three countries would “work together to implement the convention, for example by jointly putting measures in place to prevent pollution that may occur between two of the parties”.
The BCLME spans some 30 degrees of latitude, extending from Angola’s Cabinda Provide in the north, to just east of Port Elizabeth in South Africa. It is one of the richest marine ecosystems on earth and supports an abundance of marine life.
By Edgar Brandt