Eveline de Klerk Walvis Bay-The newly appointed management committee of the National Marine Pollution Contingency Plan is taking a closer look at Namibia’s marine pollution preparedness and response system to ensure sound policies are in place that allow Namibia to respond accordingly when the need arises. The 17-member committee consists of officials from various line ministries, such as the Ministry of Works and Transport, the Directorate of Maritime Affairs. It is responsible for setting broad policies and funding guidelines to ensure effective implementation of the national plan. The previous policy, the national oil spill contingency plan, is outdated and was found ineffective, nor sustainable for the fast-evolving marine pollution risks. It was developed in 2007. Deputy director of pollution control in the Ministry of Works and Transport Pinehas Auene during the first committee meeting this week said there is a need for Namibia to have an effective marine pollution preparedness and response system in place to manage marine pollution risks swiftly and effectively. “We need to assess and determine whether current policies in place are sufficient to tackle any pollution incidents. We have various ships docking at our ports, while we at the same time import and export large shipments of hazardous chemicals. Hence, the need for effective policies and guidelines cannot be overemphasised,” he said. The outdated national plan was not effectively integrated into the national emergency system, unlike the new plan that forms an integral part of and is aligned with the national emergency management systems and structures. Auene further said Namibia in the past 10 years attracted investments in offshore oil and gas exploration, which exposed Namibia to marine pollution, such as uncontrolled blowouts. “Uncontrolled well blowouts are rare events, but as a budding oil and gas producer, Namibia has to be prepared for such unforeseen events when they occur and threaten our marine and coastal environment, which is vulnerable to oil and chemical pollution.” Auene said the Kunene rivermouth, Cape Fria seal colony, and Hoanib rivermouth, Sandwich harbour wetland, Cape Cross, Swakopmund’s recreational beaches and the Orange rivermouth are some of the prime biodiversity hotspots that can be at risk if there is no pollution management plan in place.
2017-10-26 10:07:18 10 months ago