Pretoria - Ministers responsible for marine industries management and marine environment in South Africa, Namibia and Angola are to gather in Cape Town later this week for the 2nd Ministerial Conference of the Benguela Current Commission.
The ministers will among others, discuss progress made by the commission which was established in 2007 to promote the optimal and sustainable utilisation of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME). This is the coastal area that stretches from Port Elizabeth to Northern Angola.
The commission has a mandate from the three countries to work towards restoring, maintaining and conserving the biological integrity of the area.
Among its key focus include the 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.
During the meeting on Thursday, South African Minister for Water and Environmental Affairs, Buyelwa Sonjica will meet with her ministerial counterparts in Angola including Deputy Minister of Environment Anibal Actavio Da Silva, Deputy Minister of Petroleum Sianga Kivula Samuel Abilio and Secretary of State for Fisheries Victoria de Barros Neto.
The Namibian delegation will include Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau, Mines and Energy Minister Isak Katali and Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Erkki Nghimtina.
The delegates will also discuss the setting up of organisational structures and the implementation of the science plan and training and capacity building initiatives.
One of the most important objectives of the meeting will be to chart the way forward for the commission and it is expected that the ministers will begin discussions around a legally binding multilateral convention that will formalise and entrench the commission.
The three countries are hoping to sign the convention in 2012 and in doing so, they will recognise the unique character of the BCLME and commit themselves to taking joint responsibility for its sustainable management.