One of the fundamental principles of the Benguela Current Convention is that the use and management of the BCLME and its resources be based on the "best scientific evidence available". As such, the BCC implements a range of research projects that collectively improve knowledge and understanding of the Large Marine Ecosystem.
Between 2009 and 2014, the Norwegian government sponsored a comprehensive BCC Science Programme. This programme was implemented by a range of partners, including the government agencies responsible for the management of ocean resources, the EAF-Nansen project, non-governmental organisations and consultants. One of the most important features of the Science Programme was the annual Science Forum [link to The Science Forum], an event that provides an opportunity for members of the BCLME science community to meet, share results and evaluate their studies. It also provides an opportunity for scientists from the region to identify areas of mutual scientific interest and discuss collaboration with their international colleagues.
The Next Five Years (2015 to 2019)
The five-year Strategic Action Programme that was developed and adopted by the governments of Angola, Namibia and South Africa in 2014, recognises that the scope of the BCC has changed from a fisheries focused interim Commission to a fully fledged, multi-sectoral inter-governmental body. Similarly, the Implementation Plan that was developed to replace the Norwegian-funded Science Programme has a broad scope: it details the actions required to meet the objectives of the Benguela Current Convention and is structured around eight themes, namely (1) marine living resources; (2) non-living resources; (3) productivity and environmental variability; (4) pollution; (5) ecosystem health; (6) human dimensions; (7) potential for economic development; and (8) governance. The Implementation Plan provides a framework for developing detailed science projects that address each of these themes.
The Marine Spatial Management and Governance of the BCLME (MariSMaG)
Funding has been secured from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety for the five-year BCMariSMaG project. This project is being implemented by the BCC in partnership with the German international cooperation agency, GIZ. Its goal is to support the BCC, its member states and other stakeholders and key players in the maritime sector to develop the capacity to describe the region's "Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs)" and implement management measures to ensure their conservation and sustainable use. The project utilises Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) tools as a practical means to create and establish the rational use of marine space and improve interactions between users. Over five-years the project will develop management and governance strategies, policies and legal and institutional frameworks that relate to and are conducive for EBSAs and MSPs. It will also support the countries to implement and apply these strategies, policies and institutional frameworks.
Climate Change and Fisheries
In recognition of the threat that global climate changes poses for people of the BCLME, the Global Environment Facility is funding a five-year USD4.7 million project that will endeavour to build the resilience of marine fisheries by encouraging the implementation of adaptive strategies. The ultimate goal of the project is to secure food and livelihoods.
The project was initiated in 2015 and is being implemented by the BCC in partnership with the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It has four components:
- Integrating climate change considerations into fisheries policies and planning – ensuring that stakeholders and authorities are well informed and aware of the vulnerability of fisheries and fishing communities across the BCLME. Knowledge and awareness will be channelled into fisheries planning processes at regional and national levels.
- Testing climate-resilient fisheries practices – pilot projects will measurably reduce vulnerability to climate change in selected fisheries; and early warning systems will be established to inform and enable response to change.
- Capacity building and promotion of improved climate-resilient fisheries practices – ensuring that stakeholders are able to maintain and build on the knowledge gained and the practical progress made through the pilot studies.
- Monitoring and evaluation − rigorous monitoring will ensure that the project achieves its objective.
Policy, Management and Institution Building
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has provided funding of USD10.9 million to promote policy, institutional and management reforms in the BCLME.
The project "Realising the inclusive and sustainable development in the BCLME region through the improved ocean governance and the integrated management of ocean use and marine resources" is designed to build on the progress made between 2002 and 2013 – when the GEF funded two major projects: the implementation of the BCLME Programme and the Strategic Action Programme Implementation (SAP-Imp) project. Whereas the BCLME Programme generated a wealth of information about the BCLME and culminated in the establishment of an interim Benguela Current Commission, the SAP Implementation project made important contributions to building and strengthening the structure and efficiencies of Commission.
The new project, which might be informally be referred to as "BCLME III" will support the BCC to implement the Strategic Action Programme at national and regional levels and encourage full participation by communities, the public and private sectors at every step in the process.
The Ecofish Project
The Ecofish project is a joint research effort that is expected to modernise and improve the management of key marine fisheries in Angola, Namibia and South Africa. It is funded by the European Union via a grant of 1.5 million Euros, and is being rolled out over four years (2011 to 2015).
ECOFISH is focused on the scientific assessment of hake, horse mackerel and sardinella – three fish stocks considered most important for securing the prosperity of the fishing industries of Angola, Namibia and South Africa, and the livelihoods of fishers and fish workers. The ultimate goal is to help the three countries to implement an ecosystem approach to managing marine fisheries.
The ECOFISH consortium is made up of scientists and fisheries managers in Angola, Namibia and South Africa and a team of specialists from the Technical University of Denmark. Scientists from the universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch are also participating in the initiative.
The Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries
Three projects focused on the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) were implemented by the Benguela Current Commission and the EAF-Nansen project between 2011 and 2014. These projects focused on:
- implementing a process that enables the auditing and tracking of EAF
- integrating human dimensions into fisheries management
- the institutional arrangements that support EAF.
The first project adapted the tracking tool that was originally developed for South Africa by the global conservation organisation, WWF, so that it could be used in all three countries of the BCLME. The tool is used to monitor and assess progress with the implementation of EAF.
The second project involved the collation and organisation of information and knowledge on the social, cultural, economic, political and governance dimensions of fisheries management so that these could be included in the management strategies of all three countries.
The third project identified the institutional arrangements required by the BCC countries to effectively manage fisheries in accordance with EAF principles.
All three projects strengthened the regional implementation of an EAF and made a valuable contribution to the growing body of international experience with the application of an ecosystem approach.