Hon Deputy Speaker, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers and members, comrades and friends, ladies and gentlemen, I rise on this occasion on behalf of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs to recommend the unconditional adoption of the ratification of the Benguela Current Convention on Environmental Protection and Conservation of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem, which has been unanimously adopted by all parties in the portfolio committee.
Economic studies have demonstrated that a huge number of Namibians, Angolans and South Africans find work in the maritime industries reliant on the Benguela Current in the Atlantic Ocean. Although the ecological integrity of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem is still intact, the recent increase in development and industrial activity carries with it the responsibility of protecting and conserving marine resources for the benefit of current and future generations of the three countries, namely Namibia, Angola and South Africa.
The signing of the Benguela Current Convention on 18 March 2013 in Benguela, Angola, represented the culmination of many years of research, consultation and negotiations. The signing of this unique multilateral agreement was the next logical step after nearly two decades of collaboration between the three governments. South Africa is one of the three original signatories.
The convention has the potential to be one of the world's most forward- looking and successful international agreements of all time. Being the first large marine ecosystem convention in the entire world, it stands as a model for all large marine ecosystems and an example of successful international co-operation. Never before have nations agreed to such a comprehensive and stringent set of rules to protect the marine environment of a large marine ecosystem.
The Benguela Current Convention commits the parties to co-operation, collaboration and sovereign equality; sustainable use and management of marine resources; the precautionary principle; the prevention, avoidance and mitigation of pollution; the polluter pays principle; the protection of biodiversity in the marine environment; and conservation of the marine ecosystem.
The convention seeks to formally establish the Benguela Current Commission as a regional, intergovernmental organisation with the mandate to promote the sustainable use and management of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem, also called the BCLME. The ratification of this multilateral convention will ensure that sustainable development progresses in an environmentally responsible manner for long-term social and economic benefits to the people of the BCLME region and that the three governments work together to protect marine biodiversity and maintain the integrity of the BCLME region.
The convention focuses on creating an institutional structure known as the Benguela Current Commission, which will work towards achieving sustainable development through the following areas of co-operation: minimising and abatement of pollution; protection of the marine and coastal environment against adverse impact; application of management measures based on the best scientific evidence available; establishing mechanisms for intersectoral data collections and the sharing and exchange thereof; where possible, the reversal and prevention of habitat alteration and destruction; protection of vulnerable species and biological diversity; and taking all possible steps to strengthen and maintain human and infrastructural capacity.
The intention of the convention within the current move in the African Union to strengthen the African continent economically, socially and politically is indeed commendable, as well as the fact that it begins to introduce an ecosystem-based approach to managing the BCLME. This means that instead of managing living and nonliving marine resources exclusively at the national level, the three countries will work together at an international level to tackle common environmental problems and issues, such as the pollution and the management of shared fish stocks, and the co- ordination of regional efforts to mitigate the impact of mineral exploration on the seabed.
Approving the convention and implementing it through legislation is an opportunity to highlight and promote South Africa's support of a strong environmental protection regime in this region and on our continent. The portfolio committee, having considered the request for approval by Parliament of the Benguela Current Convention on Environmental Protection and Conservation of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem referred to the portfolio committee, recommends that the House, in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996, approve the said convention. I thank you. [Applause.]
There was no debate.
The Benguela Current Convention on Environmental Protection and Conservation of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem between the Government of the Republic of Angola, the Government of the Republic of Namibia and the Government of the Republic of South of Africa approved.