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The environment of the Namibian coastline and its ocean matters

Dear Sir
The article “Fishing and mining can co-exist” in Namibia Economist of 29 June 2012 must have left readers in two minds: Either the expert’s report compiled for Namibia Marine Phosphate for its Sandpiper project is so superficial, or NMP’s interpretation of the report and/or its elementary comprehension of marine activity are so shockingly and disastrously inept.
One has to read only the last paragraph to fill one with horror when NMP ventures an opinion like:
“Hake [is] found throughout the mining lease area. We assume the abundance of hake in the MLA and surrounding areas is fairly uniform, with higher levels of hake abundance in deeper water. Dredging at the specific sites is therefore expected to impact on hake, but due to their mobility hake will most likely avoid the dredged area. This will result in displacement of hake biomass into adjacent areas, mortality is unlikely. From an ecosystem perspective this will have implications only in a localised context. We assume hake will avoid the mined area.”
This is not the first time NMP excelled in uttering laughable remarks. A few weeks ago its spokesman wanted to advance his arguments by telling a gathering in Swakopmund that phosphates were harmless and indeed “edible”. A new nutrient to hit the shelves?
Any competent marine biologist will be able to substantiate the fact which must be clearly understood, namely that Sandpiper’s proposed seabed mining and dredging operations will not just impact on individual bottom-living fish species of commercial value, but upon the entire intricate, interacting marine ecosystem of the oceanic realm concerned. This ecosystem consists of an infinite spectrum of physical and biological parameters. Damage to individual components of such an ecosystem inevitably has a cascading effect upon other components which is eventually destructive of the ecosystem as a whole. It is clear therefore, that any major incursion into one component of the ecosystem – in this case the proposed mining and dredging – will not just affect that part of the seabed being mined and dredged, but the entire oceanic realm of the area, i.e. the ecological integrity of both the benthic (seabed) and pelagic (water column) components. In reality the entire benthic and aquatic ecosystem of the targeted area will be placed at risk. This is especially so in an area characterised by powerful sea currents, in this case the Benguela Current System.
It is not just for fish to swim away and go somewhere else!!
Swakopmund Matters
Via email

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