Namibia seeks advice as seabed mining harms fisheries industry
Feb 28, 2014
A conflict of interest between the sustainability of the marine ecosystem and international mining companies seeking to mine the seabed has resulted in Namibian authorities approaching Norwegian researchers for advice.
In the 1980s, pre-independence, Namibian fish stocks were at a low point. Today fisheries are sustainable, but mining the seabed could threaten the vital fisheries resource.
“This is largely a conflict that can be compared with the debate for and against oil and gas exploration in Lofoten and Vesteraalen in Norway”, said project manager and biologist Roar Solbakken of Sintef Fisheries and Aquaculture Research.
Sintef was contacted by the fisheries ministry of Namibia in 2012, as it sought a research partner with no commercial ties to the region.
Sintef has submitted proposals for an environmental study that will cover the consequences for the entire Namibian coast, were it to be opened for phosphate recovery from the sea.
Sintef Fisheries and Aquaculture is leading the project while the Institute of Marine Research partners. IMR has a long marine operating experience in projects in Namibia and the Southern Africa region.
In the 1980s the fish stocks in the West African country were on the verge of collapse due to overfishing, but because its waters are nutritious, cold, and unpolluted, the authorities have managed to restore fish stocks with the help of good management.
But it’s not just fish that make the sea an important natural resource for the country. The sea bed contains large deposits of both diamonds and phosphates. The latter is coveted for production of fertilizers.
Deputy fisheries minister Hon. Ankama will address the NASF conference on the topic of Namibian marine phosphate mining research on March 6.