Norway is helping South Africa collect data to manage its oceans economy‚ with funding for a ship setting sail from Durban to research distribution and abundance of fish stocks‚ biodiversity‚ environmental conditions and occurrence of microplastics.
Senzeni Zokwana‚ SA’s agriculture‚ forestry and fisheries minister‚ addressed the ship’s first port of call event marking the official start of the voyage of the Dr Fridjoft Nansen‚ in Durban‚ his department said in a statement on Frida.
Quoting from the latest United Nations’ State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture report that stated one in five people in the world depends on fish as the primary source of protein‚ the minister noted the report also indicates the decline of capture fisheries due to overfishing‚ illegal fishing‚ a growing population and a combination of the effects of climate change.
“Unless we address these issues collectively‚ the crisis will deepen‚ and for us as the country partnerships such as these are extremely crucial.
“. . . Our mandate as the National Department of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries is to promote the development and sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture as well as the development of our local fisheries sector.”
South African researchers would also be on board the ship‚ he said. “Our participation in this region is filled with anticipation and hope that the data will be essential to guide the government’s programme of the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy.”
The Durban event is part of the survey programme of a research vessel‚ under the EAF-Nansen Programme‚ aimed at increasing awareness about ocean issues.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’s representative in South Africa‚ Lewis Hove‚ underlined the importance of the partnership between the organisation and the Norwegian government.
“Beyond the information that will make it possible to improve the management of fisheries‚ leading to more sustainable resources use‚ the associated research will allow a better understanding of the impacts of climate change and other external factors‚ such as pollution‚ on aquatic ecosystems. This new and impressive ship brings important innovations and technological capabilities necessary to improve scientific research‚” said Hove.
The 2018 regional research programme of the ship starts in Durban‚ and is expected to end in October in Phuket‚ Thailand.
“The survey will cover the south-eastern part of Africa and Indian Ocean as well as the Bay of Bengal. This new and impressive ship brings important innovations and technological capabilities necessary to improve scientific research‚” said Hove.
The research vessel houses seven different laboratories packed with high tech equipment‚ and is the only marine research ship on the globe that flies the UN flag.
The EAF-Nansen Programme is funded by the government of Norway through the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and implemented by the FAO‚ in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute for Marine Research (IMR) that operates the vessel and provides scientific services to the programme.
In South Africa‚ 312 million kilograms of seafood consumed each year. Half of this is locally caught. Seventy% is sardine and hake‚ according to the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative.
“Overfishing and its associated environmental impacts are among the biggest environmental challenges that our generation has to tackle — alongside climate change. Increasing pressure on already over-exploited resources comes from various sectors‚ including growing coastal populations and illegal fishing‚ and remains a big challenge to managing our fisheries sustainably‚” the group states.
It is also critical of the methods being used in SA to catch fish‚ saying: “Marine habitats‚ particularly coral reefs‚ have been permanently damaged by destructive fishing practices‚ such as commercial trawling“.
See its State of the Oceans reports here: http://wwfsassi.co.za/