September 20, 2013

The Namibian Coast: A Land of Fish, Fowl, and Following the Rules

Rod Braby, project coordinator for the Namibian Coast Conservation and Management Project (NACOMA), answers a few questions about how his organization safeguards biodiversity through integrated management. The work of NACOMA will be highlighted today at Supporting Drylands through Integrated Management: The Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative in Windhoek, Namibia, where conservation and development experts and national delegates have gathered for the 11th Conference of Parties of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP11).

What form does integrated management take along the Namibian coast and how is NACOMA involved?
The Namibian Coast is managed under an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Committee made up of key political figures in the region. It supervises a Technical Committee, which is comprised of key scientific authorities coordinated by the Project Management Unit who guides decision making in the coastal zone. NACOMA serves as the coordinating agency.

What are the main activities that threaten biodiversity, and how does NACOMA seek to counteract them?
The rich coastal ecosystems are extremely fragile and can easily be damaged by unsustainable activities. Coastal committees monitor the overuse of extractive marine living resources, caused by over-harvesting, through an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. Pollution to the coast is controlled through Namibia’s environmental management act and the relevant regulations relying on environmental impact assessments, strategic environmental assessments, and related strategic environmental management plans. These EIA, SEA, and SEMPs are also used to prevent habitat degradation by Namibia’s mining industry, which extracts commodities like diamonds and uranium; the threat of invasive species; as well as the burgeoning mariculture along the coast. Coastal committees are responsible for monitoring coastal development through the National Policy on Coastal Management and the impacts of climate change through the National Climate Change Policy. Finally, catchment issues are handled by the Basin Management Committees and potential damage done through recreation activities is watched by the National Parks under the auspices of management plans and regulations. These activities have cumulative impact on the coastal environment and its steady degradation threatens the economic and health well being of all the Namibians.

What motivated decision makers in Namibia to establish national parks along the coast? Has there been any resistance?
The goal was to conserve Namibia’s rich biodiversity with allowances for sustainable tourism and sustainable industry. The resistance to the national park designation came from users of ATVs, whose tracks can leave permanent scars on the landscape, as well as from dirty industry. With the frameworks in place, there is only the danger of corruption or dirty tricks trying to break the status quo.

Is there a strategy for developing a sustainable fishing industry or mariculture along the Namibian coast?
The extractive marine living resource industry is dealt with directly through the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources through the Marine Resources Act backed by support from the South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation and a Fisheries Observer Agency. NACOMA is invited to contribute comments where appropriate through its coastal committee. We are working with the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem and the Benguela Current Commission to address potential issues with mariculture. Our approach is to seek available partnerships and synergies with sector’s cooperation for sustainable development.

How has ecotourism contributed to achieving the goals of increased livelihoods for Namibians and a maintained level of biodiversity for the coastal habitats?
The national parks and matching grant investments have helped to catalyze these goals and the programme continues with the new phase of Global Environmental Facility funding. NACOMA has collected coastal project proposal outlines through advertisements in Namibian newspapers that, if the matching grant criteria are fulfilled, receive support in applying for their matching grant applications.

More information on the Namibian Coast landscape can be found here

Photo credit: Di Gazdar on Flickr.

1 Comment

  • Marietjie
    October 1, 2013 at 4:12am

    We have conserve and sustain our coastal environment for future use.