SA: Working towards a sustainable future

South Africa and Namibia have signed a rectified agreement which will see the countries working towards restoring, maintaining and conserving the biological integrity within the fisheries space.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will ensure the two counties share a border and transboundary of fishing species, the co-management of shared fish stocks, environmental monitoring, biodiversity and ecosystem health, mitigation of pollution, minimising the impacts of marine diamond mining and oil and gas production.

The agreement was signed by Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana and his Namibian counterpart Minister Bernard Essau on Thursday.

“It is with the greatest pleasure for me, on behalf of South Africa, to sign this MoU here in Namibia.

“Our President has made a clarion call for us ‘To grow South Africa’ as part of the new dawn in our country. Growing South Africa is intertwined with our commitments to grow the region and the continent as a whole. This framework today captures this noble commitment of our country,” said Minister Zokwana.

South Africa and Namibia share in the productive Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) together with Angola.

The Benguela current is a cold ocean stream that runs northwards from South Africa, along Namibia’s entire coastline, into Angola. This marine ecosystem is richly endowed with both living and non-living resources – from large oil and gas reserves to abundant fisheries and unrivalled natural beauty.

The relationship of the three countries has been historic with international partners funding a number of significant projects in the BCLME region. These collaborations were later formalised through the Benguela Current Commission that is now being ratified into a convention.

In a statement on Thursday, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the MoU with Namibia will see collaborations in research and development for a specialised joint working group for evaluation, management and socio-economic study of shared marine resources to be established.

The two countries will also partner in aquaculture and inland fisheries in which both countries will carry out joint research into cultivation of marine living resources indigenous to the Benguela Current Ecosystem and indigenous inland freshwater resources, using acquired technology as far as possible.

Another segment that the MoU covers is the monitoring, control and surveillance were joint actions will be pursued in safeguarding oceans to reduce and eliminate the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

This will include joint surface and aerial marine fisheries surveillance patrols; share assets used for the purpose of sea patrols; joint observer programme to ensure compliance with those authorised to fish.

Capacity building and development will see an extensive joint training operation on shared monitoring platforms, with a special focus on youth and women.

There will be cooperation on the economic development of fisheries and blue economy.

Both countries will cooperate on capacity building on compliance systems to work together on policies, regulatory frameworks and implementation of blue economy activities of mutual interest.