Namibia’s Marine Resources Act has won Silver in the 2012 Future Policy Award. The jury stressed that the Act has served to institute an economically and ecologically viable fishing industry in the African country. The 2012 Future Policy Award highlights exemplary solutions to protect the world’s oceans and is initiated by the World Future Council, an international policy research organisation that provides decision-makers with effective policy solutions.
The Republic of Palau in the Pacific has been declared the winner of the Award in recognition of two outstanding marine policies through which a network of protected areas has been created and over a hundred species of deep water and reef sharks in Palau’s waters are being protected. The second Silver Award went to the Philippines’ Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act (2010), which ensures the effective management of the Tubbataha Reefs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hotspot of coral reef biodiversity. The winners were announced during a press conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 26 September 2012.
After Namibia’s Marine Resources Act (2000) received a Silver Award this year, the World Future Council once again praises African policy making: in 2011, the topic of the Award was “Forests for People” and Rwanda took home the Gold Award for its National Forest Policy (2004).
“With the Future Policy Award we want to cast a spotlight on policies that lead by example. The aim of the World Future Council is to raise awareness for exemplary policies and speed up policy action towards just, sustainable and peaceful societies,” explains Alexandra Wandel, Director of the World Future Council. “Namibia is demonstrating that developing an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable fishing industry is possible. The principles applied closely follow international guidelines for sustainable fisheries management and can guide management and governance of fisheries in other countries”.
According to the World Future Council, while Namibia inherited heavily overexploited and unregulated fisheries when it gained independence in 1990, the country has largely halted the decline of its fish stocks over the last two decades. Namibia’s Marine Resources Act (2000) regulates key drivers of degradation of marine capture fisheries: bycatch, illegal fishing, and sets restrictions on fishing gear, depth and times.
“After independence, the fish stocks were so depleted due to unregulated fishing activities to an extent that nobody thought they would ever recover, but the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources put effective policies in place, and today we can fish. Collectively, we are now the custodians of this resource and we have to use and manage it in a sustainable way”, says M.T Amukwa, Chairperson of the Namibian Hake Association. “We cannot operate carelessly as if there is no tomorrow – future generations will not forgive us if they find resources depleted.”
An international jury comprised of experts from academia, politics, international bodies, civil society and indigenous groups from all five continents assessed the Future Policy Award nominations against the World Future Council’s Seven Principles for Future Just Lawmaking. Honourable mentions were bestowed upon South Africa’s Integrated Coastal Management Act of 2008 and California’s Ocean Protection Act, 2004. In total 31 policies from 22 countries were considered for the award.
Oceans cover 71 per cent of the earth’s surface, contain 90 per cent of the earth’s biomass and produce more than half of the oxygen we breathe. Millions of coastal people worldwide depend on marine resources as a crucial source of food, income and employment. According to the World Future Council, 35 million people in Africa depend on the fisheries sector for their livelihoods. But our oceans are under severe stress from overfishing, pollution and climate change. However, the World Future Council points out that 85 per cent of our global fisheries are currently over exploited or exploited to their maximum. The reasons for this are destructive fishing practices, high bycatch and discard rates, fishing subsidies that contribute to overcapacity as well as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The threats that the world’s fisheries are facing go back to poor governance and a lack of regulation. Despite a number of international agreements to manage our oceans and coasts and despite commitments to global targets to conserve marine biodiversity, the threats are accelerating and implementation of policies has been slow.
There is an urgent need for effective policy implementation for sustainable and equitable fisheries management in order to ensure the livelihoods and food security of current and future generations that depend on them.
Source: World Future Council
Useful links: Namibia’s Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources