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COST (5y)


B1. The BCLME is a complex and highly variable system for which there is evidence of system change and fragmentary but important evidence of increasing instability/variability. Scales of variability include: A.. large scale sustained events; B: decadal changes; and C: high frequency short-lived events and/or episodic events. Human impacts on the BCLME (e.g. by fishing) is superimposed on the inherent natural variability, and the combined effect of anthropogenic disturbance and this variability have been implicated in ecosystem change and the collapse of harvested resources. There is also considerable uncertainty regarding ecosystem status and yields. Lack of information about and understanding of environmental variability and system-wide impacts hampers sustainable management of BCLME resources and results in the non-optimal utilization of these resources.

 Complexity of processes

 Poor understanding of processes and cause and effect relationships

 Poor understanding of global driving forces (linkages)

 Lack of data/ information

 Inadequate mathematical models

 Lack of capacity

 Change to coastal ecosystems from altered wind field/rainfall

 Changes in coastline morphology

 Damage to coastal infrastructure

 Unpredictable variations in zooplankton and fish egg/larval survival

 Unpredictable changes in fish growth, mortality and recruitment

 Unpredictable changes in species’ abundance, composition, distribution and availability

Regime shifts

 Cross boundary movements of fish, seabirds and seals

 Change in flux of CO2, methane and H2S between atmosphere, ocean and sediments

 Difficulties in managing resources sustainable

 Operational difficulties with resource utilization

 Assessment of anthropogenic impacts difficult

 Long-term net change or natural cycles?

 Time periods sufficient long to detect changes?

 Uncertain employment (job losses and gains)

 Variation in revenue

 Over- and under- utilization of resources.

 Lack of food security

 Human population migration

 High production costs

 National/regional conflicts

 Reduced capacity to support artisanal fisheries

 Changes in government revenue, private income and exports.

Climate Change

 Contribution to global climate change (CO2, methane flux)


 Shifts in distribution of biota

 Loss of species/ biodiversity

 Altered food webs

 Disruption of faunal migrations


 Unsustainable management of shared and straddling stocks

 Altered fish spawning patterns and population shifts

 Unpredictable fluctuations and availability of fish stocks

 Unpredictable and variable distribution of fishery benefits

 Regional economic instability and unemployment

 Regional conflicts with other users

Coastal infrastructure

 Costly maintenance of coastal infrastructure

Develop regional early warning system for env. change

Targeted feasibility assessment of PIRATA linkup/application to BCLME

Targeted transboundary assessment of largescale hypoxia/impacts

Assess role of upwelling system as CO2 source/sink

Analyze plankton data archives for measurement of decadal change

Develop transboundary state of the enviroment analysis/reporting system.

Develop links with CLIVAR

Adapt/develop predictive models

Establish regional advisory groups

Data gathering community projects

Transboundary env variability networking(incl. internet)

Establish links with the Gulf of Guinea LME









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$ 400 000

$ 250 000
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$ 100 000

$ 250 000

[$ 50 000]

$ 300 000

$ 50 000
$ 100 000

$ 400 000

$ 50 000

Regional early warning systems for major env. events/change.
Quantification of utility/ application of PIRATA for SADC

Information needed to design monitoring/ predictive systems

Quantification of CO2 flux

Record of decadal ecosystem changes

Regional environmental analysis/reporting system/ network

Knowledge and expertise on global climate links

Predictions and models

Regional advisory groups

Availability of important/ useful data

Regional env. variability network.

Links with Gulf of Guinea LME



The Benguela upwelling area is a highly variable “convex” system with three open and variable boundaries. It is unique in that it is bounded at both equatorial and poleward ends by warm water (tropical) systems viz. Tropical Atlantic and Agulhas Current. It is sensitive to environmental events (variability and change) in the Atlantic, Indo-Pacific and Southern Ocean. Unlike the Humbolt Current there are few long-term data series to form a baseline against which changes can be predicted or assessed. There is an uneven spread of data between disciplines and between the participating countries. Difficulties in predicting changes in the system is a consequence of:

Complexity of physical, chemical and biological interactions and processes, and the difficulties in predicting environmental variability

Our limited understanding of cause and effect relationships, compounded by the problems of predicting not only the environmental variability but also ecosystem impacts

Our limited understanding of driving forces (global linkages). There is evidence from case studies that inter-annual variability in the northern Benguela is associated with changes in zonal (east-west) winds in the equatorial Atlantic, and also that there are some common features in the variability of the north and south Atlantic. There is also fragmentary evidence linking variability in the Pacific El Niño/La Niña (ENSO). Thus, although there are pointers to the importance of remote physical (global climate) forcing of the Benguela, the linkages and mechanisms are not understood.

Lack of data/information: Long-term data series are few, and except for the extreme southern Benguela, the ecological processes are poorly understood.

Inadequate mathematical models applicable to the region: Very little mathematical modeling of the Benguela has been done internationally, and there is a general lack, in the region, of the capacity (skills and technology) to adapt available models from elsewhere, to run these or to develop new models. This applies to physical, chemical and biological (ecosystem) modeling. This is a serious drawback to developing predictive capacity.

Lack of capacity, exacerbated by a south-north gradient in capacity (number of qualified personnel, equipment, vessels etc): The colonial political past in the region has resulted in insufficient persons with the necessary expertise/skills. Moreover, downsizing and emigration has resulted in further shrinkage of the skill pool. There is a marked north-south gradient in human and infrastructure capacity in the BCLME, with Angola being the worst off by far, yet with the greatest needs. Thus available capacity is barely sufficient to meet present national needs, and insuffienct to address the priority transboundary problems.


Processes that give rise to variability in the Benguela occur on three temporal and spatial scales (A: large scale sustained events; B: decadal changes; and C: high frequency short-lived events and/or episodic events). There is evidence that environmental change/variability does impact on the BCLME in a number of ways. However, in order that these changes can be predicted sufficiently well to be useful for ecosystem management, the cause and effect must be properly quantified. The impact of environmental variability/change includes inter alia the following:

Change to coastal ecosystems from altered wind field (strength and direction) and/or rainfall (quantity and distribution)(AB). Changes in wind frequency direction and strength impact on the supply of nutrients (for productivity), currents and stratification. In addition there is evidence that SST is related to rainfall in the region (although the process mechanisms are not understood).

Changes in coastline morphology as a result of climatic regime changes and short term events (storms) (BC)

Short term events (storms) leading to damage to coastal infrastructure (C)

Variations in zooplankton and fish egg/larval survival and higher level impacts (A, B and C) through changes in primary production and stratification/turbulence caused by changes in wind frequency, direction and strength.

Changes in species’ abundance, composition, distribution and availability (A, B and C) i.e. ecosystem response to environmental change.

Changes in fish growth, mortality and recruitment (A, B and C) - these have major implications for resource management.

Cross boundary movements of fish, seabirds and seals (A, B and C). The majority of harvested species of fish either straddle country EEZ boundaries or otherwise move across these boundaries from time to time. These movements/shifts are associated with the life histories of the species and also changes in the environment. The implications if this for sustainable management are obvious.

Regime shifts i.e. increased variability or a net change towards altered state (B). For example switching between species such as anchovy and sardine (opportunistic) or between sardine and jellyfish (pessimistic!). These regime shifts can occur naturally – there is evidence in the sediment record of such occurrences having taken place historically (prior to fishing). The impact of fish exacerbates the problem. Moreover cyclical changes in wind stress result in north-south shifts in some straddling fish stocks.

Change in flux of CO2, methane and H2S between atmosphere, ocean and sediments (B). It is not known with certainty whether the BCLME is a source or sink of CO2, although it appears to be a net sink. Changes in climate could perturb this balance and feed back to climate. The BCLME could be a useful “targeted site” for assessing the role of climate change on upwelling systems and feedback to climate from CO2 release/uptake.


Limited understanding of this highly variable system means that it is uncertain whether the observed variability reflects sustained long-term net change or natural cycles, and whether the available data series are sufficiently long to enable us to determine this.

Socioeconomic consequences

The quality of advice given to resource managers is reduced by the ability to predict, with confidence, short-, medium- and long-term changes in the Benguela system. A consequence of this is that responsible resource management must err on what is percieved to be (but which may not be) the conservative side. This leads to:

Uncertain employment (job losses and gains)

Variations in revenue

Sub-optimal utilization of resources (particularly by artisanal fisheries)

Lack of food security

Human population movements in response to variable resource availability

High production costs e.g. in fish processing

National/regional conflicts

Changes in government revenue, private income and exports

Transboundary consequences

Sustained major environmental events (e.g. Benguela Niños), decadal change and major short-term perturbations (e.g. 10- or 50-year storm events) do not respect country EEZ boundaries, but rather impact on the BCLME as a whole. In other words the types of environmental variability/change which are the focus of the BCLME programme are system-wide and in essence transboundary. Moreover, the BCLME is believed to play a significant role in global ocean and climate processes besides its importance to Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Many of the transboundary consequences listed below would occur regardless of the high variability of the system. Nevertheless our ability to manage them effectively is limited by our predictive capability. Some of the consequences of increased variability or sustained change include:


Shifts in distribution of biota - for example decadal scale shifts in sardine and anchovy from Namibia to Angola and back have been documented.

Loss of species/biodiversity - Alien species have also displaced indigenous species(e.g. spread of Mediterranean(blue) mussel from near Cape Town to Central Namibia)

Altered food webs

Disruption of fish, bird and mammal migrations - cf 1995 Benguela Niño


Unsustainable management of shared and straddling stocks

Altered fish spawning patterns and population shifts

Unpredictable fluctuations and availability of fish stocks e.g. collapse of anchovy stock around 1990

Unpredictable and variable distribution of fishery benefits e.g. which resulted in the closure of fish canning factories

Regional economic instability and unemployment

Regional conflicts over declining resources/stocks

Coastal infrastructure

Costly maintenance of coastal infrastructure

Climate Change

Changes in the status and/or functioning of the BCLME may affect its contribution to global climate change through its role as a source/sink of CO2 and source of methane. Moreover the geographic location of the Benguela at a choke a major route for the transfer of heat between the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic, means that the BCLME may be an important site for early detection of global change.


Without good baseline information and wider regional coordination and articulation, major problems and issues facing the three countries bordering the BCLME cannot be resolved. It is necessary to undertake targeted assessments of priority environment variability issues/problems and to develop appropriate systems, linkages and networking.

Development of a suitable needs-driven, cost-effective regional environmental early warning system for the BCLME by cross linking existing national systems.

Transboundary assessment of low oxygen water formation, dynamics and continuity and transboundary impacts.

Feasibilty assessment of extension of and/or link-up to the PIRATA moored buoy array in the tropical Atlantic to enhance understanding of links between weather, climate and fish. (PIRATA is an Atlantic equivalent but smaller version of an ocean buoy network in the Pacific, which is used to forecast EL Niños and La Niñas. The value of linking the BCLME with the PIRATA system would be in the forecasting of Benguela Niños and anomalous events originating in the tropical Atlantic.). If the feasibility assessment were to prove successful (and it looks like it will), then there is also an excellent chance of ongoing involvement between the region and PIRATA being funded from country sources and donors.

Determination of role of upwelling systems as a CO2 source/sink and methane source. The value of this to the international community has previously been commented on. Moreover it will provide an obvious link between the International Waters and Climate Change components of GEF. A modest demonstration project would be appropriate.

Development of community projects for cost effective environmental information gathering and environmental education. Public awareness and involvement are seen as essential components for the successful implementation of the BCLME Programme – both for cost effective information gathering/monitoring and also to help reduce anthropogenic environmental impacts on the ecosystem.

Analysis of plankton archives and other (oceanographic) data collections – baseline information for measurement of decadal change. These collections are unique assets and initial indications are that they may hold the key to unraveling some of the decadal variability which has characterized the BCLME of the last 50 years and which has hampered sustainable harvesting of living resources.

Develop state of the environment analysis/reporting system for use on a regional basis in the BCLME

Develop links with CLIVAR and CLIVAR Africa (CLIVAR = Climate Variability and Predictability Project of the World Climate Research Programme)

Adapt/develop predictive mathematical models applicable to the region – the utility of this has been referred to elsewhere.

Establishment of regional advisory groups and networking centres. This is a low cost activity with potential large benefits.

Develop transboundary environmental variability networking for region – this links in with the proposed early warning system(see above). It will make extensive use of the internet..

Establish links with the Gulf of Guinea LME – Clearly the BCLME does not function in isolation from the rest of the south Atlantic, so building bridges/networking with other LME projects could provide valuable spin-offs in both directions.


Proposed activities are ranked on a scale of 1-3 in terms of their perceived priority. Only those activities which address transboundary problems requiring incremental funding are listed.

Anticipated outputs

Proven/validated regional environmental early warning system appropriate for the BCLME in a form which could be used to leverage future country and donor co-financing for permanent implementation.

Assessment of utility/application of a PIRATA-type buoy array for the BCLME

Documented assessment of information needed to design monitoring/predictive systems

Assessment of decadal ecosystem changes in the BCLME since the 1950s based on historical/archival data and collections

An established regional environmental analysis/reporting system/network and activity centre

Assessment using the best available knowledge and expertise links between the BCLME and the global climate system.

Quantification of CO2 and methane source/sink relationships in the BCLME with an understanding of its applicability to other boundary systems and climate models

Useful predictions and models

Identification of cost-effective early-warning indicators of environmental changes that impact on fish stocks in the BCLME

Establishment of regional enviroment network and reporting system - making full use of remotely sensed products and the internet, in a form that it can be self-sustaining operationally.










COST (5y)


B2. There is a lack of capacity, expertise and ability to monitor environmental variability, to assess the linkages and ecosystem impacts of this variability and to develop a predictive capability required for sustainable integrative BCLME management. There is also an unequal distribution of availability capacity (human and infrastructure) between participatory countries.

Limited inter country exchange (training)

Degrading and downsizing of research institutions

Inadequate training programs

Lack of running funds

Lack of skills to maintain equipment.

Lack of equipment and supplies

Lack of person power

Low salaries

Lack of concern from the policy makers on the ecosystem issues.

Brain drain

Inability to participate in regional decision making processes

Regional imbalances in: baseline information, predictive capacity, data collection ability etc.

Inadequate information for finding indicators of future change

Lack (low) interaction between institutions

Information which is not comparable/ cannot be integrated across the region

Commitment to supporting capacity development by governments of the BCLME region

Political and economic uncertainty

Sub-optimal or over utilization of renewable resources due to lack of information, knowledge and understanding required for resource management

Unequal opportunities for resource access/ management

Absence of full stakeholder participation

Creation of conflict

Poorly informed/ advised governments at all levels

Low institutional sustainability

Uncoordinated resource management, research and monitoring programmes

Management of overall system by all three countries is not harmonized. Capacity gradient (south-north) leads to uneven research monitoring effort in the system as a whole with consequences for resource management

Difficulties with resource co-operation

Inability to monitor or manage the system as a whole

Assess capacity needs to address transboundary issues.

Devise strategy * for developing job opportunities, salaries and infrastructure

Develop training partnerships with private sector

Creation of regional multidisciplinary working groups

Devise, develop and implement appropriate training courses

Interchange of personnel between countries to gain/ transfer expertise and knowledge

Improve networking via internet

Improve public information/environmental education (pilot project)

N/A to GEF





$25 000

$250 000

$25 000

Capacity development strategy for region

Strategy for job creation (and salaries)

Improved regional management of resources and establishment of new institutional networks

Shared expertise

B2 EXPLANATORY NOTES. Problem: Lack of capacity, expertise and ability to monitor environmental variability


The three countries (Angola, Namibia and South Africa) bordering the BCLME are developing countries with requirement to meet the basic living needs of their peoples. These countries have emerged from after long periods of colonialism and oppression and are attempting to develop their economies and social structures. Funding for marine monitoring and assessment activities are very limited and policy makers are not always fully aware of the importance of transboundary environmental variability/change in ocean management applications. Viewed collectively, the lack of capacity can be ascribed to the following:

Lower priority placed on environmental issues by policy makers

Limited inter country exchange of personnel for liaison, experience sharing and training

Degrading and downsizing of research institutions as a result of pressure to reduce the size of the civil service

Inadequate training/skill development programmes

Limited funds to meet day to day running expenses, let alone to invest in hardware and capital items.

Limited skills to maintain equipment.

Limited availability of equipment and supplies – most high tech equipment needs to be sourced abroad, and unfavourable local currency exchange rates have made this equipment unaffordable.

Severely limited numbers of trained personnel – the lack of trained personnel is a direct consequence of colonialism and also the former apartheid policy applied in Namibia prior to 1990 and in South Africa prior to 1994. This has resulted in a legacy of a poor skills pool and an unequal distribution of skills within countries and between countries.

Inadequate remuneration for government researchers (competition from the private sector).

Brain drain; loss of personnel to the private sector and overseas because of salaries are not competitive and career prospects uncertain.


The consequences of insufficient funding of research in the BCLME include:

Regional imbalances in baseline information, predictive capacity, data collection ability etc. There is a sharp gradient in the numbers of trained personnel from south to north.

Limited ability to participate in regional decision making processes, as too few people are available to do the tasks at hand.

Inadequate information for identifying indicators of future change

Limited interaction between institutions. This problem is fast disappearing as a consequence of these countries to collaborate.

Collection of information which is not comparable/cannot be integrated across the region

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