The Debmarine–Namdeb Foundation recently inaugurated two Seabird Emergency Units in Oranjemund and Lüderitz. One of the environmental goals of the foundation is to conserve seabirds on the Namibian coast and in its marine exclusive economic zone, with emphasis on the most threatened species.
Biodiversity and climate change remain a priority for the Namibia De Beers Group of Companies. Being a significant role player in the Namibian diamond mining industry, the Namibia De Beers Group of Companies believe it is their responsibility to protect the natural world and improve the lives of people.
“Therefore, we are committed to the overall De Beers Group Building Forever framework and Five-Year Plan to achieve carbon neutrality across our operations, minimise our water footprint and achieve a net positive impact on biodiversity by 2030. Our partner communities cannot be healthy or thrive economically unless we work together to protect the natural world,” read a statement from the foundation.
Building Forever, the group’s blueprint for creating a positive and sustainable impact to endure well beyond the discovery of the last diamond, is at the heart of everything the companies do. “We would like to state that we continue to form partnerships and collaborative opportunities if we are to achieve this goal. The units being inaugurated today are as a result of collaboration with local and international partners to strengthen our role in protecting the natural world. With these two facilities and the centre at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in Lüderitz, we can now safely and proudly say Namibia is prepared to handle any emergency for seabirds affected in case of an oil spill in our oceans,” stated Brent Eiseb, chairperson of the Debmarine-Namdeb Foundation.
Jan Nel, Operations Manager of Debmarine Namibia, in his statement observed that in addition to what the foundation is undertaking and the equipment they are officially inaugurating, Debmarine Namibia as a company has obtained oil control pollution equipment which will assist with the mitigation of oil spills, namely the Fastflow skimmer, Disc skimmer and Containment boom.
“With this equipment, we feel, as a country, we are now well-advanced in terms of preparedness and response to mitigate tier 1 and tier 2 oil spills. The equipment prevents any oil spill from reaching the shore and ultimately our seabirds,” said Nel. He further emphasised the need for all members of the community to be involved in protecting the natural world, and ended his remarks with the slogan of “If not us, then who?”
Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Sylvia Makgone, who officially opened the two units, commended the Debmarine-Namdeb Foundation and Debmarine Namibia for the extensive investment towards marine environmental protection. “The ministry very much appreciates such initiatives and investments, and warmly welcomes the partnership with both parties”, she stated. She then thanked the Debmarine-Namdeb Foundation on the two emergency response units in Oranjemund and Lüderitz, and the support the Foundation has previously given to the ministry towards seabird conservation.
Seabirds are part of Namibia’s coastal marine ecosystem, and are crucial environmental indicators. The future of the survival of some of the Namibian seabird species is indeed in dire straits. If no drastic steps are taken with regards to the issues and challenges, the risk intensifies in losing one or more of these species permanently, not just locally, but also globally. With increasing financial constraints on the Namibian government, it is important that wider society and corporate establishments support and contribute to the fight for the survival of the seabird species.
Thus, the support offered by the Debmarine-Namdeb Foundation for the establishment of Emergency Response Units for seabirds in Lüderitz and Oranjemund is a crucial first step in improving the preparedness in dealing with large-scale events that could potentially result in the deaths of significant numbers of sea life (including seabirds). Furthermore, the establishment of the Namibian Foundation for Conservation of Seabirds (NAMCOB), with the intention to construct a fully- equipped seabird rehabilitation facility in Lüderitz, will be absolutely essential in supporting the ministry and contributing to seabird research, rehabilitation and conservation in Namibia.
NAMCOB’s founding members are the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), Debmarine–Namdeb Foundation, Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE), Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), Dr Jessica Kemper from the African Penguin Conservation Project, and The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, (USA).