9 Successfully Managing Marine Fisheries in the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem


Shaheen Moolla1

9.1 Introduction

Large Marine Ecosystems are regions of ocean space encompassing coastal areas from river basins and estuaries to the seaward boundaries of continental shelves, enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, and the outer margins of the major current systems.... They are relatively large regions, of the order of 200 000km2 or greater, characterized by distinct bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophically dependent populations. Within the 64 LMEs, 95% of the global marine capture fisheries are found as well as most of the ocean pollution and coastal habitat alteration.2

Map: courtesy of Feike Natural Resource Management Advisers

The Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) Programme is a trilateral country programme that involves Angola, Namibia, and South Africa.3 The bulk of financial support for the BCLME Programme has to date been provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) under its International Waters portfolio. Implementation of the BCLME Programme is undertaken by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The three member countries provide financial and in-kind contributions.4

The BCLME is one of 64 large marine ecosystems that were identified in the years subsequent to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992. It extends west of Port Elizabeth on the Cape south-east coast, covering the entire Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Namibia and continuing northwards to Cabinda in Angola. The BCLME region has been recognized as one of the most productive ocean areas in the world.5

The Benguela Current and region support a multitude of marine fish, mammals, and seabirds. The current has for centuries supported subsistence, small-scale commercial, recreational, and large-scale commercial fishing industries, which in turn has resulted in significant economic activity in the BCLME region. For example, South Africa's commercial fishing industry landed approximately R4.5 billion (US$640 million) worth of fish in 2006.6 Approximately 70 per cent of this value would have been harvested and processed within the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces, which are located within the BCLME region. In Namibia, the commercial fisheries sector supports more than 14,000 direct jobs and contributes approximately 7 per cent to that country's gross domestic product (GDP).7

Additionally, the BCLME region is increasingly becoming known for its vast mineral wealth, particularly oil deposits off the coast of Angola. Angola is the second largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria, with reserves estimated at 12.4 billion barrels. Oil currently accounts for 90 per cent of Angolan exports, 50 per cent of its GDP, and 80 per cent of its tax revenues. Crude oil production has increased 600 per cent since 1980. From the current oil production of around 1.5 million barrels a day, oil production in Angola is expected to reach 2 million barrels per day in 2007. It is anticipated that by 2012 over 80 per cent of the country's oil production will come from the deepwater and ultra-deepwater wells currently being developed. Gas production is expected to reach an average of 1.5 billion cubic feet a day during the period 2001–2007, resulting in substantial new opportunities for downstream industrial investment.8

However, by 1992 the cumulative impacts of commercial (over) fishing, unregulated artisanal fishing in Angola, and pollution from rapidly growing mining interests within the Benguela region, coupled with the human impacts of continued coastal migration, convinced South Africa, Namibia, and Angola, together with a number of coastal States, to take measures aimed at:

To achieve the UNCED objectives, an ecological framework of management – the Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) concept – was proposed and adopted. An essential component of such a management regime is the inclusion of a scientifically based strategy to monitor and assess the changing states and health of the ecosystems by tracking key biological and environmental parameters. This management system includes regulatory, institutional, and decision-making aspects as well as the scientific information on conditions, contaminants, and resources at risk within the geographic extent of the ecosystem.9

9.2 Establishment of the BCLME Programme

9.2.1 Phase 1: the Benguela Fisheries Interaction Training Programme

In 1995, Angola, Namibia, and South Africa agreed to establish the Benguela Fisheries Interaction Training (BENEFIT) Programme. BENEFIT was originally conceived as a project of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 1996. Its principal objectives are to develop marine science and technology skills and capacity within the BCLME region and, in particular, in Namibia and Angola.10 The BENEFIT Programme was officially launched in May 1999. It is funded over a 10-year cycle.

9.2.2 Phase 2: establishment of the BCLME Programme

The first steps towards the establishment of the BCLME Programme were taken in 1997 when funding for the programme was sought from UNDP. UNDP allocated the BCLME Programme US$344,000 and in July 1998 the first BCLME regional workshop was held in Cape Town, South Africa.11

The most significant outcome of the 1998 workshop was the development of six thematic reports on the BCLME region.12 The six themes covered fisheries, oceanography, coastal environments, mining, offshore oil and gas exploration, and socioeconomic impacts of economic activities in the BCLME region.

In April 1999, a second regional workshop was held in Windhoek, Namibia. The most significant outcome of this workshop was the development of a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA). The TDA identified the most critical issues affecting the Benguela Current and the region; the three critical areas identified were the sustainable management and utilization of resources, environmental variability and predictability, and ecosystem health and the management of adverse impacts.13

In February 2000, seven Ministers, representing the governments of Namibia, Angola, and South Africa, signed a Strategic Action Plan (SAP), which was to be the principal codification that would guide policy development for the sustainable management of the BCLME region. In addition, the SAP made provision for the first set of institutions to be established for the long-term management of the BCLME region. Perhaps the most important aspect of the SAP was that it set out a number of key policy actions that were required of the three governments. It also put in place a timetable for the achievement of these policy actions. The key policy actions codified were as follows:

9.2.3 Implementation of the BCLME Programme, 2002

Phase 1 of a two-phase implementation timetable commenced in 2002. Phase 1 was scheduled to continue until 2006, after which the principal donors would review the progress made and consider funding of the second phase from 2007 until 2012. However, during Phase 2 each member State would have to start contributing to the funding of the programme's institutions and work. Upon commencement of the programme in 2002, country activity centres were set up in each member State; a Programme Co-ordination Unit (PCU) was established and operates from Windhoek, Namibia; and a Programme Steering Committee (PSC) was established and tasked with managing the BCLME Programme. The PSC comprises representatives of the three governments, SADC, UNDP-GEF, and BENEFIT. The BCLME Programme Chief Technical Adviser chairs the PSC.

Between 2002 and 2006 more than 70 projects were commissioned by the PCU with the aim of satisfying the policy actions codified in the SAP. Some of the more significant projects undertaken included:

By the end of 2006, UNDP-GEF approved further funding for the second phase of the BCLME Programme to commence. In August 2006, Angola, Namibia, and South Africa agreed to the establishment of a Benguela Current Commission (BCC). An interim agreement establishing the BCC was signed by Namibia and South Africa on 29 August 2006 and by Angola on 31 January 2007.

9.3 Institutional arrangements

The SAP made provision for the establishment of an ‘interim Benguela Current Commission’. The governments of Angola, South Africa, and Namibia instead agreed to bypass use of an interim commission and in August 2006 established the actual Benguela Current Commission. The BCC has two decision-making structures: an administrative secretariat and a strategic advisory body.

In terms of Article 6 of the Interim Agreement establishing the BCC, a Ministerial Conference shall be constituted. Article 6 provides that:

  1. The Ministerial Conference consists of national delegations from each Contracting State, each led by a Minister authorised to represent that Contracting State.

  2. The Ministerial Conference shall evaluate the implementation of this Agreement and in particular shall –

  3. Meetings of the Ministerial Conference shall be chaired in rotation by the heads of delegation of each of the Contracting States, proceeding in the order that the Contracting States notify each other in accordance with paragraph 1 of Article 16 that they are bound by this Agreement.

  4. Decisions of the Ministerial Conference shall be taken by consensus between the delegations of all the Contracting States except that in relation to any matter that only affects two Contracting States, the agreement of those Contracting States shall be sufficient for the Ministerial Conference to take a decision on that issue.

  5. Meetings of the Ministerial Conference shall be convened by the Secretariat either in accordance with a decision of the Ministerial Conference, or at the written request of any Contracting States.

  6. Any State which is not a party to this Agreement and any other body or agency, whether governmental or non-governmental, whose experience or expertise is relevant to the activities of the Interim Commission, the Secretariat, the Ecosystem Advisory Committee and any subsidiary bodies established in accordance with this Agreement, or any in relation to matters dealt with in the Strategic Action Programme, which has informed the Secretariat of its wish to be represented as an observer may be admitted to a meeting of the Ministerial Conference, unless one or more of the Contracting States present, object. The admission and participation of observers shall be subject to the rules of procedure adopted by the Ministerial Conference.

Article 7 makes provision for the establishment of the Benguela Current Commission.

  1. The Commission comprises national delegations from each Contracting State, each led by a Director-General or permanent secretary, or his or her nominee.

  2. The role of the Commission is to promote a co-ordinated regional approach to dealing with management issues concerning the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem and its functions include –

  3. The first meeting of the Commission shall be held within three months of this Agreement entering into force in accordance with Article 16 and at that meeting the Commission shall adopt rules and procedures for itself and determine the initial composition of the Ecosystem Advisory Committee and of the sub-committees referred to in paragraph 11(a).

  4. Unless the Commission decides otherwise, each of its meetings shall be chaired in rotation by the head of a delegation, proceeding in the order that the Contracting States notify each other under paragraph 1 of Article 16 that they are bound by this Agreement.

  5. Decisions of the Commission shall be taken by consensus between the delegations of the Contracting States except that in relation to any matter that only affects two Contracting States, the agreement of those Contracting States shall be sufficient for the Commission to take a decision on that matter.

  6. If the Commission is unable to take a decision on a particular issue, it shall be reconsidered at the next meeting.

  7. Meetings of the Commission shall be convened by the Secretariat, either in accordance with a decision of the Commission, or at the written request of any Contracting State.

  8. The Commission shall adopt rules and procedures for itself and for any subsidiary body established by it under this Agreement.

  9. The Commission shall -

  10. The Commission may make recommendations to the competent authorities of a Contracting State, on management issues relating to the protection, enhancement and ecologically sustainable use of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem and of any aspect of it, including recommendations in relation to any matter referred to in Annex 1.

  11. The Commission –

  12. Each sub-committee or working group shall determine its own rules of procedure to the extent that these have not been determined by the Commission.

  13. Working groups may include any person with appropriate expertise or who represents a particular sector or group of people with an interest in the matter being dealt with by the working group.

Article 8 makes provision for the establishment of the Secretariat to the BCC.

  1. The [BCC] shall -

  2. Unless the Commission decides otherwise, the Coordination Unit [PCU] of the BCLME Programme shall function as the Secretariat of the Commission and the Chief Technical Adviser of the BCLME Programme shall function as the executive secretary of the Secretariat until the persons referred to in paragraph 1 take up their positions, but the consent of the Steering Committee of the BCLME Programme shall be required for this arrangement to be continued after 31 December 2007.

  3. The functions of the Secretariat are:

Article 9 establishes the principal advisory body to the BCC. Initial drafts spoke of a ’scientific committee’ to be established to advise the BCC. The draft BCC Interim Agreement was amended and the establishment of an ecosystem advisory committee was provided for.

  1. The Ecosystem Advisory Committee consists of experts nominated by each of the Contracting States.

  2. The role of Ecosystem Advisory Committee is –

  3. The Ecosystem Advisory Committee shall determine its composition and its rules of procedure to the extent that these have not been determined by the Commission.

  4. The Ecosystem Advisory Committee may establish working groups or subcommittees to assist it in the performance of its functions.

  5. Working groups may include any person with appropriate expertise or who represents a particular sector or group of people with an interest in the matter being dealt with by the working group.

  6. The Ecosystem Advisory Committee shall meet at least once annually and shall make decisions by consensus.

  7. The Secretariat shall convene the first meeting of the Ecosystem Advisory Committee within three months of the first meeting of the Commission convened in accordance with Article 7(3).

  8. The Ecosystem Advisory Committee shall submit annually to the Interim Commission, a draft work plan and budget for the forthcoming two years and a draft annual report of its activities during the previous year.

Although the BCC will be the principal vehicle charged with the sustainable management of the BCLME region, its policy positions and management recommendations should complement the policy and political commitments particularly of SADC, the Abuja Declaration, and the Pan African LME Forum with respect to fisheries and aquaculture.

The SADC Fisheries Desk today sadly only exists in name. The last time the SADC Fisheries Ministers met was in May 2002, when they agreed to hold an extraordinary meeting to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in SADC members' EEZs. Although a draft declaration of measures to prevent, deter, and eliminate IUU fishing in the SADC region was circulated in January 2004, the declaration remains a draft. Nonetheless, the BCC would be wise to consider implementing the tenets of such documents, which were drafted for the SADC region and are therefore considered appropriate to the region's needs.

More recently, African Ministers and Heads of State met in Abuja in August 2005 and adopted the Abuja Declaration. This recognises, inter alia, the dependence of millions of Africans on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods, for food and nutrition, and for economic well-being and commerce. In addition, the benefits of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices were accepted but noted with grave concern the depletion of fisheries resources, the degradation of aquatic environments, and the threats to sustainable fisheries and aquaculture on the African continent.

The Pan African LME Forum declared in November 2006 the commitment of the various African coastal states to, inter alia, the LME model of ecosystem management to recover fisheries and halt further degradation of marine and coastal environments and to seek to harmonize fisheries policies on the African continent.

9.4 Evaluating the BCLME Programme: challenges and achievements

In terms of Article 16 of the Interim Agreement that established the BCC, ‘[t]his Agreement shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after two or more Contracting States have notified the other States in writing of their consent to be bound by the provisions of this Agreement’. For the Interim Agreement to be enforceable, each member State must inform the other members of its intention to be bound by its provisions. It is understood that the country commitments to be bound by the provisions of the Interim Agreement were circulated in February and March 2007. The Interim Agreement is therefore enforceable between the BCLME member States.

Since the conceptualization of the BCLME Programme in 1995, it has had an inherent scientific bias. Much of its project budget and resources have been committed to scientific study of the marine ecosystem. Only since 2003 was there a realization that for the BCLME Programme to be politically palatable it would have to have some relevance and location within the socio-politico-economic agendas of the three member States. The political disinterest in the BCLME is starkly demonstrated by the fact that between 2000 and 2006 the Ministers responsible for fisheries in South Africa and Namibia met twice – once to sign the SAP in 2000 and again to sign the BCC Interim Agreement in August 2006. The first scheduled BCC Ministerial Conference occurred in July 2007.

The fact that the BCC Interim Agreement was signed by all three member States may very well have been the result of the sheer energy and commitment of the BCLME Programme's Chief Technical Advisor.

On paper, the BCLME Programme ought to be capable of sustainably managing the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem. The BCC is a lean bureaucratic minimalist structure. It has a political head in the Ministerial Conference. Decision making and key recommendations for sustainable management of the region's ecosystem are to emanate from the BCC, which will be supported administratively by the Secretariat and strategically by the Ecosystem Advisory Committee. In addition, it ought to be sufficiently funded until at least 2012. Finally, the BCC should commence its duties on a foundation of significant fisheries science research, shared stock management analyses, policy, legislative and trade analyses, and socioeconomic data.

9.4.1 Challenges

So, how does reality change the theoretical success that the BCLME threatens to be? To answer this, it is important to consider the following factors:

The changing Benguela Current

There is increasing scientific support for the notion that the Benguela Current is changing. A study of recent sea surface temperatures (SST) in the region indicates steady increases.15 Rising SSTs, increased fishing effort, and the impacts of years of overfishing and under-reporting of catches are resulting in substantial changes to the fishing economies of the region.

During 2004, Angola declared a zero catch allowance in its pelagic trawl fishery. Between 1990 and 2001, the average annual large pelagic catch fell from more than 10,000 tons to less than 4,000 tons.16 The most dramatic changes are occurring in Namibia and along South Africa's West Coast. Namibia's hake and small pelagic fisheries have all but collapsed. The Namibian government issued an emergency moratorium on hake fishing during October 2006.17 With regard to the small pelagic fishery, the total allowable catch (TAC) was set at 65,000 tons in 1998, but by 2002 the Namibian government declared a zero catch limit. By 2005, the TAC was set at 25,000 tons. The result of these collapses has been a number of fish factory closures, which have resulted in further unemployment in the Namibian fishing industry. In turn, key socioeconomic and biological objectives set in Namibia's National Development Plan have not been achieved.18

South Africa's West Coast has been witness to a dramatic migration of the staple West Coast fisheries over the past seven years. West Coast rock lobster has continued a steady migration further offshore and south-east, migrating to regions that never before had access to commercial quantities of lobster. Small pelagics, and in particular pilchards, have migrated further eastward, threatening the continued economic viability of the largest processing facilities on South Africa's West Coast. South Africa's pilchard TAC collapsed by 48 per cent between 2005 and 2006 to approximately 210,000 tons. Hake stocks have been overfished, with trawlers reportedly catching a predominance of ‘baby’ or undersized hake. A number of trawlers have consequently engaged in large-scale dumping of up to 50 per cent of their catches and targeting of already pressured line fish stocks, such as snoek (Thyrsites atun).

Socio-politico-economic realities

The socio-politico-economic realities that exist in each of the three member States differ significantly in certain respects, yet are similar in others. To date, the BCLME Programme has not received the levels of public, economic, and political interest it ought to have received. The principal political driver of the BCLME Programme has been the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.

Fisheries rank second in perceived importance to mining, whether marine diamond mining, gas exploration, or offshore oil drilling in each of the three member States. Diamond mining along the South African and Namibian coasts, as well as oil drilling in Angola's EEZ, has had an adverse impact on the marine ecosystem, but more often than not, mining interests trump sustainable ecosystem management requirements. A good example is South Africa's failure to declare a marine protected area along its west coast to protect hake stocks because of concerns raised by a single mining company that has an exploration permit in the vicinity of the proposed marine protected area. In this example, just the potential use of a mining exploration permit allocated to a single entity derailed a marine protected area aimed at protecting South Africa's commercially most important fish stock – hake.

Large-scale commercial fishing enterprises are non-existent in Angola (although a number of large fishing vessels fish in Angolan waters), increasingly few in Namibia, and relatively abundant in South Africa. More than 95 per cent of Angola's total fish landings are utilized for domestic consumption. The mainstay of the Angolan fishery is its artisanal sector, which remains unregulated with no obligation on fishers to record or report catches. Offshore oil and gas mining, on the other hand, contributes more than 80 per cent to Angola's tax revenue and accounts for more than 90 per cent of all exports.

Although fisheries contribute some 7 per cent to Namibia's GDP and employ some 14,000 people directly, the recent collapses in its small pelagic and hake fisheries threaten the long-term economic sustainability of the Namibian fishery. Diamond mining in Namibia contributes approximately 20 per cent to GDP. The same threats apply to South Africa. South African hake and pelagic fisheries are increasingly under biological and ecological pressures. Both fisheries are managed conservatively and have faced substantial cuts in the total allowable catches over the past two years. The most significant difference is that in South Africa, the commercial fisheries contribute no more than 1 per cent to GDP and have therefore failed to attract significant political interest in the management of the fisheries. The commercial fisheries do, however, directly employ some 45,000 people, mainly in the Northern Cape, Western Cape, and Eastern Cape provinces.

While political, social, and economic concerns for sustainable fisheries in the three BCLME member States may be hard to elevate, the economic and social concerns about the possible impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss have attracted the attention of entire populations – and not just those residing along the coasts of the BCLME member States. The BCLME Programme would accordingly do well to shift its focus from the narrower area of sustainable fisheries and marine ecosystem management to the impacts of climate change on the economies of Angola, South Africa, and Namibia. In this way greater levels of political interest and support would be achieved.

In addition to mining, sustainable fisheries management in the BCLME region faces a number of further socio-politico-economic challenges. The most significant challenge has been social, political, and economic transformation.19 Angola's transition from war to peace resulted in the implementation of an ‘Angolans First’ policy that also applied to the fisheries sector. Essentially, this policy forced the numerous foreign nationals fishing involved in harvesting Angolan marine resources to partner with Angolan nationals. In addition, artisanal Angolan fishers were granted access to a host of inshore fisheries. In Namibia, the post-Apartheid Namibian government introduced its Namibianisation Policy (as part of the National Development Plan), which sought to affirm Namibian access to fish resources. In South Africa, the post-Apartheid government introduced a policy of granting commercial fishing rights to ‘new entrants’ or black South African persons who were denied access to these resources under the Apartheid regime. Under all three policies, the number of participants increased dramatically across the commercial fisheries. For example, between 1993 and 2004, South Africa's commercial fisheries witnessed a tenfold increase in the number of commercial right holders.

A further challenge to the sustainable management of fisheries that is shared by all three member States is the adverse ecological impacts caused by population migration to coastal regions. It is estimated that approximately 30 per cent of Angola's entire population lives in Luanda.20 The result has been a combination of unregulated access to inshore fish stocks for subsistence and local trade purposes, as well as uncontrolled dumping of sewerage and other pollutants into the Bay of Luanda.21 In Namibia and South Africa, population migration to the coast, coupled with rapidly increasing domestic and foreign tourism, has placed significant pressure on coastal resources in both countries. Coastal zone management has to date been very poor in Namibia and South Africa.

The reason for poor to non-existent management may very well emanate from the fact that in each country three spheres of government assume jurisdiction over different aspects and parts of the coastal zone. In addition, much of the coastal development that has occurred, regardless of its ecological impact, has been justified as being necessary because of the jobs it will provide, the investments that have been committed to a local region, and the fact that the development supports Namibianisation or South African black economic empowerment. Fortunately, Namibia and South Africa are in the process of designing legislation aimed at closing the loopholes that have historically permitted degradation of the coastal zone.

Shared stock management

A core objective of the BCLME Programme is the sharing of management, research, and compliance obligations with respect to the various shared stocks of the BCLME region.

Shared fish stocks as such have not been legally defined. Neither the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention nor the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of UNCLOS relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (1995 Fish Stocks Agreement) provides a legal definition. A definition proposed by Hayashi in 1993 and subsequently adopted by Caddy and others in 1998 has since been used to refer specifically to transboundary stocks that do not extend to the high seas:

A group of commercially exploitable organisms distributed over, or migrating across, a maritime boundary between two or more national jurisdictions, whose exploitations can only be managed effectively by cooperation between the States concerned, but where emigration to or immigration from other jurisdictions need not be taken into account.22 [emphasis added]

The major shared, commercially important fish stocks of the BCLME region include:

The management of shared fish stocks presents one of the greatest challenges to the achievement of long-term, sustainable fisheries. Legal, biological, socio-politico-economic, and financial drivers all form an essential part of shared fish stock management. Where the harvesting activities of one State may well affect the harvesting opportunities of another country due to the sharing of resources, a prima facie case for the establishment of a co-operative management institution does exist.24

Within the BCLME, there are many such examples, involving small pelagics, line fish, crabs, lobsters, tunas, horse mackerel, and hake. At least two levels of co-operation are currently recognized in such situations.25 The so-called primary level of co-operation exists in terms of shared and coordinated research programmes and activities. In the context of the BCLME, BENEFIT provides a well-known and ideal example. Simultaneously this provides the suitable and requisite platform from which to move to the next, secondary level of co-operation, that of active or shared management. Current expert opinion is that this form of co-management requires (almost by definition) the establishment of co-ordinated, joint management programmes. Should this premise be accepted (which it appears is the case within the BCLME, with the establishment of the BCC), this then in turn requires the following commitments26:

To achieve the above-mentioned commitments the following would be necessary27:

Shared management of shared stocks is a prerequisite from a scientific, socioeconomic, and fisheries management perspective. The mandate for the development of measures for the transboundary management of shared stocks in the region clearly exists.28 The common, stated objective of all the applicable regional and international legal and policy frameworks is to promote the ‘responsible and sustainable’ use of marine resources. In the case of shared stocks, this can only be attained through negotiated, co-operative agreements between the member States.

Access to information

The ability to successfully manage shared stocks will depend extensively on the ability and desire of member States to share information and to provide the BCC (and the advisory structures) with access to reliable, accurate, and most recent data. To date, experience has shown a worrying degree of reluctance by member States to share data. Even more concerning is the reliability and accuracy of much of the data that is accessible.

Accordingly, an urgent prerogative of the BCC should be to develop at least two protocols pertaining to access to information. The first protocol ought to provide an agreed methodology for collating and analysing data. The second one ought to provide a list of data categorized by degree of confidentiality and the conditions for the release of that data to either officials of other member States (only) and/or the public in general.

Harmonization

The effective management of shared stocks by entities such as the BCC will depend significantly on whether the laws, policies, and management practices in each of the BCLME member States are complementary. It is important to note that although harmonization of laws, policies, and management practices is strongly advocated, what is not advocated at all is that these laws, policies, and management practices must be the same regardless of national circumstances.

Although each member State has overarching, complementary national fisheries laws in place aimed at ensuring sustainable use of the fisheries, substantial gaps have been identified when it comes to implementation.29 Broadly, these gaps include the following:

9.4.2 Achievements

The success of the first phase of the BCLME Programme is perhaps most clearly defined by the financial commitments made by the GEF/UNDP that allowed Phase 2 of the BCLME Programme to commence, entitled the SAP Implementation Phase during the last quarter of 2007. The BCLME Programme achieved a number of successes in the areas of fisheries research, management, compliance, and governance during Phase 1. Outlined below is a brief description of the most impressive achievements of the BCLME Programme to date.

Since the 1990s, South Africa, Namibia, and Angola have been sharing research expertise and have undertaken numerous research cruises under the auspices of BENEFIT with the financial assistance of, inter alia, the Norwegian government. The result of the early investment in fisheries research in the Benguela region is that there has been significant fisheries science research and shared stock management analyses.

During the latter period of Phase 1, the BCLME Programme wisely committed significantly more resources than before to investigating the compatibility of management and legal fisheries systems in each member State. Between 2004 and 2007, a substantial programme was established to determine the fisheries management and legal systems in existence in member States and how these systems could be harmonized to increase management, research, and administration efficiencies.31 Between 1998 and 2004, South Africa, Namibia, and Angola each introduced new fisheries legislation that is broadly complementary and that gave effect to a number of the most important international fisheries management instruments, such as FAO's Compliance Agreement. Although there are number of gaps in the fisheries management spheres of the member States, the fundamental fisheries laws in each country are complementary and share the vision of the BCLME Programme's commitment to sustainable fisheries management.

Between 2002 and 2006, South African-Namibian and Namibian-Angolan fishery control officers undertook a number of joint fisheries patrol and training exercises. The most tangible outcome of the joint exercises was the conclusion in 2004 of an agreement between the three member States and the other six SADC coastal states to share all vessel monitoring data so as to increase the monitoring and co-operation capacities of the SADC coastal States.

Finally, during 2006 the BCLME Programme procured the development of an ecosystem information system aimed at providing managers, policy advisers, and fisheries scientists in each member State with reliable and up-to-date data on the region's oceanography, marine resources, pollution events and sources, and ecosystem indicators. The development of the information system commenced in May 2006 and was completed by November 2006. The intention is that the data from this site will be used, together with other real-time data sources, to implement an environmental early warning system programme, which commenced in March 2006 and was completed by the end of 2007. The State of the Ecosystem Information System site may be viewed at http://seis.sea.uct.ac.za/index.php.

9.5 Conclusion

The successful implementation of the BCC Interim Agreement will depend on the level of political commitment shown by the respective member State Ministers in the Ministerial Conference. Phase 2 will require substantial political, human, and financial resource commitments to the BCC, the Secretariat, and the various advisory committees that may be established.

Angola, Namibia, and South Africa simply cannot afford to have the BCC fail or stutter in the fulfilment of its mandate. The BCC is no longer a fisheries research vehicle that may or may not produce an answer on whether there is any relationship between South African hake and Namibian hake. The BCC has quickly evolved into an institution that should be capable of creatively and efficiently mitigating the adverse impacts that will result from the changes being played out in the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem. The economies of an entire region depend on it.


1 Director, Feike (Pty) Ltd (natural resources advisory firm), Cape Town, South Africa. Moolla is a member of IUCN's Commission on Environmental Law: Oceans, Coastal and Coral Reef Specialist Group.

2 D.A. Duda and K. Sherman, K., A New Imperative for Improving Management of Large Marine Ecosystems, Ocean & Coastal Management, vol. 45, no. 11 (2002), p. 802. [Link]

3 Useful Internet resources on this issue include http://seis.sea.uct.ac.za/index.php; www.bclme.org; www.benefit.org.na; www.feike.co.za; www.mcm-deat.gov.za; and www.mfmr.gov.na

4 See www.bclme.org

5 Ibid.

6 Feike (Pty) Ltd et al., Report on the Biological, Social and Economic Impact of Rights Allocations in the BCLME Region (Cape Town, South Africa: October 2006). Available at www.feike.co.za/frame_bclme.jsp or on request from smoolla@feike.co.za

7 Ibid.

8 See http://seis.sea.uct.ac.za/php/pollution/angola/mining.php

9 M.J. O'Toole et al., Integrated Management of the Benguela Current Region, in B. von Bodungen and R.K. Turner (eds.), Science and Integrated Coastal Management (Berlin: Dahlem University Press, 2001), pp. 231–253.

10 See www.benefit.org.na

11 See www.bclme.org

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid.

14 See http://seis.sea.uct.ac.za/index.php

15 See http://seis.sea.uct.ac.za/index.php

16 See http://seis.sea.uct.ac.za/php/fishResources/fishAngola.php

17 See www.mfmr.gov.na

18 See, for example, Feike (Pty) Ltd et al., supra note 6, pp. 34–37.

19 See further a report drafted by Feike (Pty) Ltd et al. for the BCLME PCU: Transformation in the Marine Fisheries of the BCLME Countries, 1 October 2005, available at www.feike.co.za/library.html. See also S. Moolla, H.G. H. Kleinschmidt, and M. Diemont, A New Chapter in South African Fisheries Management, in Ship Year, 2005, pp. 116–122.

20 Interview by the Author with the Director General of the Institute of Marine Fisheries, INIP, Angola, July 2006.

21 Visit by the Author to Luanda during July 2006.

22 See further a report drafted by Feike (Pty) Ltd et al. for the BCLME PCU: Comparative Legal Analysis and Law Reform, 21 April 2006, available at www.feike.co.za/library.html

23 For more information on the traditional line fisheries in South Africa and Namibia, see www.feike.co.za/library.html

24 G. Munro, A. Van Houtte, and R. Willmann, The Conservation and Management of Shared Fish Stocks: Legal and Economic Aspects, FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 465 (Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization, 2004), p. 5. [Link]

25 See further Feike (Pty) Ltd et al., supra note 23.

26 Ibid.

27 Ibid.

28 R.U. Sumaila, C. Ninnes, B. and Oelofsen, Management of Shared Hake Stocks in the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem, presented at the Norway-FAO Expert Consultation on the Management of Shared Fish Stocks, Bergen, Norway, 7–10 October 2002, p. 16. [Link]

29 See further Feike (Pty) Ltd et al., supra note 23.

30 It is important to note that as members of SADC, South Africa, Angola, and Namibia have agreed to share vessel monitoring system data of vessels authorized to fish in their respective EEZs. This agreement was concluded in 2004.

31 On 26–27 February 2007, representatives from Angola, Namibia, and South Africa met in Windhoek, Namibia, to analyse and evaluate the findings and recommendations of the harmonization programme, which was led by the consulting firms Enviro-Fish Africa (Pty) and Feike (Pty) Ltd.

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