Under the heading “Our Ocean, Our Heritage, Our Future” Namibia hosted the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Benguela Current Commission (BCC) in December 2016. At the conference, 10 Ministers from environment, fisheries, transport, and mining/petroleum ministries of Angola, Namibia and South Africa committed to the sustainable development of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME), which is one of the most productive ocean regions in the world with unique marine biological diversity.
Commercial fisheries, maritime transport, the extraction of non-living natural resources such as oil, gas, diamonds, and other minerals, and coastal tourism are key industries in the region. Angola, Namibia and South Africa founded the BCC in 2007 to enhance the trilateral management of the shared ecosystem. A project financed through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Environment Ministry (BMUB) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in cooperation with the BCC Secretariat supports the BCC and its member states in implementing Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and in identifying and managing the region’s “Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas”.
With the ratification of the Benguela Current Convention by the countries in 2015, the BCC is now empowered and institutionalized as the regional organization responsible for implementing the intergovernmental agreements for the conservation and sustainable use of the BCLME.
At the Ministerial Conference on the 8th of December 2016, the importance of MSP was highlighted as a practical approach to achieve ecosystem-based management of oceans in line with sustainable development. The South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr. Edna Molewa, appreciated the cooperation with Germany: “In the last year, we have been able to roll out a process that lays the foundation for effective MSP to come – with the support of Germany”. Dr. Molewa reported that South Africa will table the MSP legislation and the national framework on MSP, which serves as the national guide for MSP in South Africa’s ocean territory, beginning of next year in Cabinet.
Namibia’s German Ambassador, Mr. Christian Schlaga, acknowledged: “Germany is keen to learn from and with you in the process towards achieving sustainable development in our oceans. The German Government is committed to supporting you in the process to further strengthen the BCC”.
The Namibian Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Mr. Bernard Esau as the incoming Chairperson of the BCC for the next two years emphasized that the development of mechanisms for sustainable co-existence of the various economic uses of the marine ecosystem will be a key area of work for the BCC in the coming years under his leadership.