SA signs Benguela conservation pact

19 March 2013

South Africa, Angola and Namibia have signed an agreement to protect the Benguela Current marine ecosystem, which stretches from Port Elizabeth on South Africa’s coast to Cabinda in the north of Angola and is one of the richest ecosystems on earth.

The Benguela Current Convention, signed in Angola on Monday, seeks “to promote a coordinated regional approach to the long-term conservation, protection, rehabilitation, enhancement and sustainable use of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) to provide social, economic and environmental benefits,” the Environmental Affairs Department said in a statement.

“The historic signing of the Benguela Current Convention represents the culmination of many years of research, consultation and negotiation, all of which have been carried out in a spirit of trust and cooperation,” said Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.

It is one of the richest ecosystems on earth, with goods and services estimated to be worth approximately US$54.3-billion per year.

“Offshore oil and gas production, marine diamond mining, coastal tourism, commercial fishing and shipping are some of the most important industrial activities that take place in the region,” the department said.

“By signing the Benguela Current Convention, Angola, Namibia and South Africa will agree to manage the BCLME in a cooperative and sustainable way for the benefit of coastal people who depend on the ecosystem for food, work and their well-being.”

The Benguela Current Commission will also be introduced as a permanent intra- government organisation through the signing of the accord, even though it has existed since 2007.

The three governments will cooperate through the commission to enforce laws and regulations, minimise pollution and monitor maritime policies and activities.

“The signing of this unique multilateral agreement is the next logical step after nearly two decades of collaboration between South Africa, Namibia and Angola,” Molewa said.

SAinfo reporter