12 December 2016 – Hon Bernard Esau, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources said last week as he became the new chair of the Benguela Current Commission (BCC), “the full potential of the Commission is limited as member countries are now classified as middle-income countries, making funding more difficult. Raising resources among the three members states is needed for the continued existence of the Commission as most development partners are either cutting back on their support or pulling out altogether.” The annoucement was made last week at a Benguela Ecosystem conference in Swakopmund.
On the benefits for Swakopmund, the new chairman said the Commission will soon need more office space as the organisation expands.
“I am happy to report that the Headquarters agreement will soon be signed by the Namibian Government and the Commission” Esau said, adding that the new research vessel, Dr. Fridtj of Nansen will be available to Commission in collaboration with the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) Nansen programme.
“Because nature knows no boundaries, it is a vision that enables us to work together that has bridged political and physical boundaries that exist amongst us” Esau said on the challenges to ensure sustainable use of ocean resources to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. Under the EAF Nansen programme, the vessel will also be used for climate change observations to track and mitigate unpredictable changes in the marine ecosystem.
“I take over captaincy of this distinguished Commission, knowing very well the open and rough waters that lie ahead” Esau said on furthering the objectives of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME). This, he said, will take a concerted effort after inheriting an ecosystem which was misused and mismanaged before.
The Benguela Current Commiccion is the first organisation in the world to have a convention based on the Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) concept. At the Swakopmund conference, delegates covered the Commission’s vision of a Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem that sustains livelihoods for all the member states. The Commission comprises South Africa, Angola and Namibia.
For the next two years, Esau intends to place special emphasis on developing mechanisms for sustainable co-existence of the various economic uses of the marine ecosystem, including fishing, mining, transport and tourism.
The Strategic Action Programme (SAP) 2015-2019 signed in Namibia in 2014 in line with the Commission’s mandate to ensure that this ecosystem remains productive and sustained for generations to come.
“We also committed ourselves to a multi-sectoral collaboration where environment, fisheries, transport, minerals and energy are working together to protect, preserve and utilise our ecosystem sustainably while unlocking the economic potential, and realising the socio-economic benefits” said Esau.