SA signs treaty to protect coastal ecosystem

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pretoria - Government ministers from South Africa, Angola and Namibia today signed an environmental treaty that will promote a coordinated regional approach to the long-term conservation and protection of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME).

The BCLME is regarded as one of the richest ecosystems on earth, with ecosystem goods and services estimated to be worth at least 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 accord, signed in Angola, is a formal agreement that also seeks to provide economic, environmental and social benefits for the three countries.

“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 Environmental Affairs Department said in a statement.

The convention will also establish the Benguela Current Commission – in existence since 2007 – as a permanent inter-governmental organisation, with a mandate to promote the long-term conservation, protection, rehabilitation, enhancement and sustainable use of the BCLME.

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said the historic signing of the Benguela Current Convention represented the culmination of many years of research, consultation and negotiation.

“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. –