Protecting the ocean

Various activities formed part of this year’s World Oceans Day celebration.

16 June 2019 | Local News

Samantha Matjila; Albatross Task Force; . . .highlighting the importance of maintaining the sustainable management of marine and coastal resources.

Walvis Bay - Otis Finck

World Oceans Day is commemorated on 8 June to raise awareness of the ocean, its importance and how everybody can contribute towards protecting it.

This year’s event was celebrated with “Gender and oceans as theme” in Walvis Bay and recognised the importance of gender equality for effective conservation and the sustainable use of oceans.

The Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), BirdLife International’s Albatross Task Force (ATF), Walvis Bay municipality, the ministry of fisheries and marine resources (MFMR) and the Benguella Current Convention hosted the event on 8 and 9 June.

Planned activities on World Oceans Day included a beach clean-up campaign with learners from eight Walvis Bay-based schools and employees from various companies participating in the operation at Independence Beach near Kuisebmond.

Speaking at the event ATF project coordinator Samantha Matjila said that the marine environment provides an important contribution towards the well-being of Namibians and the economy.

“We celebrate this day to remind everyone of the important role oceans have in our everyday life. Our oceans benefit us through the air we breathe, regulating the earth’s climate, recreation, maritime transportation, economic benefits, food and medical products. We celebrate the beauty, importance and promise of the ocean.”

She said all Namibians have a responsibility and should commit to protecting and conserving the natural environment both on- and off-shore.

“This clean-up exercise in particular serves to highlight the importance of maintaining the sustainable management of marine and coastal resources so that future generations can continue to benefit from it.”

Matjila also called for a concerted effort towards achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls which she said still lacks in all ocean-related sectors to achieve the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Sustainable Goal 5 in line with the 2030 Agenda.

“For too long we have underestimated and underrated the influence women have when it comes to making a difference in a traditionally male dominated field. When I started working as an ATF instructor observing and collecting bycatch data in the Namibian demersal trawl and longline fisheries in 2016, most of the crew were made up of men, with no cabins to accommodate women. Today the vessels strive to accommodate women.”

She acknowledged a group of five marine champion women, known as Meme Iitumbapa and lead by Selma Nakale, that play a pivotal role in conservation and to the ATF project in particular.

“They build the mitigation devices called tori lines that are responsible for reducing seabird bycatch in the Namibian demersal longline and trawl fishery. Namport provided the initial funding for the project.”

As a run-up to Earth Day the ATF visited local schools from 28 May to 6 June and raised awareness around World Oceans Day and marine conservation.

The marine conservation projectin collaboration with the MFMR and the Fisheries Observer Agency (FOA) focuses on reducing seabird mortalities caused by interactions with fishing gear.

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