Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Global Oceans Commission: Cape Town, SA

This week will be remembered for two historic events, err, make that three. The third being the fact that the Minister of Fisheries met with representatives of the fishing industry for the first time since assuming the position back in June 2009. 

We however digress. The week started with the announcement that South Africa, Namibia and Angola agreed to formally and finally establish the Benguela Current Commission. This was a crucial step in the formalisation of institutional measures aimed at the harmonised and sustainable management of the Benguela Current marine ecosystem and the region's shared fish stocks. 

The second historic event is the hosting of the first ever meeting of Commissioners in Cape Town of the newly established Global Oceans Commission, which is co-chaired by South Africa's Trevor Manuel, former Costa Rican president, President José María Figueres and former UK foreign secretary David Miliband, MP. 

Mr Manuel has penned a rather descriptive opinion piece in the Business Day here today on the purpose and objectives of the Global Oceans Commission. The GOC is essentially tasked with consulting with fisheries and oceans experts and interested parties from around the world to determine how the world's leaders can implement measures to reverse the present degradation and unsustainable utilisation of High Seas resources. 

The consultation process commences in Cape Town tomorrow on Human Rights Day. Feike's Shaheen Moolla has been invited to attend the meetings of Commissioners on 21 and 22 March 2013.

Of course, one cannot ignore the immense irony of this first consultation process commencing in Cape Town, South Africa. While the GOC seeks to develop complex measures aimed at protecting the High Seas, South Africa continues to fail to even protect its own EEZ; it continues to fail to implement fisheries research protocols, cruises and recovery plans; the South African fisheries branch continues to employ as its two most senior decision-maker persons with no expertise and skills in fisheries management; and every single inshore fishery is either in a state of biological collapse, entirely depleted or massively over-fished. 

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