(Olivia Jones Communications)
Parliament – A unique international agreement to protect the marine ecosystem around the south and west coasts of southern Africa was approved by MPs on Tuesday.
The Benguela Current Convention (BCC) was signed between Angola, Namibia, and South Africa in March to help protect and conserve the so-called Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME).
It was passed by the National Assembly with no objections.
The BCLME stretches from Port Elizabeth in South Africa, to the Angolan province of Cabinda.
Marine experts consider it to be one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems.
Industrial activities in the area, including offshore oil and gas production, marine diamond mining, commercial fishing and shipping, are all on the rise.
The chairperson of Parliament’s environmental affairs portfolio committee, ANC MP Johnny de Lange, told the House the convention was a world first.
“[It is] the first large marine ecosystem convention in the entire world, and it stands as a model of all large marine ecosystems and as an example of successful international co-operation.
“Never before have nations agreed to such a comprehensive and stringent set of rules to protect the marine environment of a large marine ecosystem,” he said.
It further sought to establish the Benguela Current Commission as a regional inter-governmental organisation with a mandate to promote the sustainable use and management of the BCLME.
Co-operation would take place on, among other things, pollution control, data collection, and habitat protection, De Lange said.
On Tuesday, the House also approved an annex to the international Antarctic Treaty.
Annex VI, the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, deals with liabilities arising from environmental emergencies on and around the world’s southernmost continent.
It was approved with no objections.
MPs also passed two merchant shipping oil pollution measures.
The Merchant Shipping (International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund) Contributions Bill, and the Merchant Shipping (International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund) Administration Bill, will now go to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.