The Benguela Current Commission (BCC) Ministerial Conference Meeting will take place on December 8, in Swakopmund.
As the highest policy-making body of the BCC, the Ministerial Conference will play a pivotal role in assessing the challenges surrounding the implementation of the BCC’s 2015-2019 Strategic Action Programme (SAP).
Key ministries in fisheries, environment, transport, minerals, petroleum and energy from Namibia, Angola and South Africa will develop policy actions and guidance with sustainability consistently at the core.
The SAP focuses on eight key themes: living marine resources, non-living marine resources, productivity and environmental variability, pollution, ecosystem health and biodiversity, human dimensions, and the economic development potential and governance of the Benguela current.
Since its inception as a regional entity, the Ministerial Conference has focused on trans-boundary issues. Policy directives have included guidance on issues including capability development for the region, sharing and exchanging data, along with joint boundary surveys.
As part of the closed Ministerial Conference, approximately 100 participants, including development partners, key industries and foreign diplomats, will assess the possibilities of unlocking trans-boundary potential and economic opportunities in the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) region.
The ‘blue economy’ can be harnessed in the sectors of fisheries, minerals, energy, environment and transport to further improve the sustainable economic potential of the region.
The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Our Ocean, Our Heritage, Our Future’, in line with the Commission’s vision of promoting the optimal and sustainable utilisation of the marine resources in the BCLME region in the areas noted above.
BCC executive secretary Dr Hashali Hamukuaya reaffirmed the importance of the theme: “The current generation should continue to promote the harvesting of marine resources sustainably to ensure that the future generation will also enjoy the same benefit they are enjoying today from these resources.”
Namibia has contributed to be a stable marine industry by adopting good management and control measures. For example, in 1990, Namibia declared a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EZZ), where only Namibians were permitted to fish. Stocks have begun to recover since then, in comparison to the years beforehand when illegal fishing from foreign nations drastically affected fish stocks.
The current perception of the management of marine and coastal resources is that ministers from participating countries recognise the socio-economic benefits derived from the BCLME.
Hamukuaya highlights the potential of the joint commitment to sustainable management of the region: “Potential opportunities that exist for economic development with regards to blue economy in the BCLME region are minerals explorations, marine transport and marine tourism.”
The adoption of various marine legislations that govern the harvesting, conservation and protection of marine resources form part of the Ministerial Conference’s commitment to the overall goals of the commission.
The private sector also has a role to play in implementing the Strategic Action Programme.
Dr Hamukuaya points outs that the management, monitoring and governance of marine and costal resources can be sustained by the private sector pledging their perpetual financial support to the programme.
This year’s meeting will also include the official handover by the current chairperson of the Ministerial Conference, Dr Victoria de Barros Neto from Angola, to the Namibian Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau.
His two-year term will include overseeing the implementation of the SAP, mobilising resources, providing continuous support and strengthening the BCC secretariat.