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Although the governments of the region are committed to capacity (skill/expertise development), this commitment is according to perceived national priorities. There is uncertainty with regard to the priority status of marine science, technology and management at the regional level.

Political and economic uncertainty results in potential “recruits” choosing more lucrative careers – particularly those that favour mobility (emigration).

Socioeconomic consequences

The underestimation by policy makers of the importance of developing and maintaining sufficient research capacity to manage the resources of the BCLME has resulted in numerous socioeconomic problems including:

Sub-optimal or over utilization of renewable resources

Unequal opportunities for resource access/management

Absence of comprehensive stakeholder participation

Creation of conflicts

Poorly informed/advised governments at all levels

Low institutional sustainability

All of the above are in turn direct consequences of inadequate/inappropriate communication and in some case lack of trust between various players.

Transboundary consequences

The Benguela ecosystem is believed to play a significant role in global ocean and climate processes besides its importance to Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Consequences of poor national and regional management practices thus have wide reaching consequences including:

Non cost-effective resource management, research and monitoring activities (fragmented, poorly planned and unlikely to achieve the objectives of ensuring sustainable management).

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 e.g. possible bias in information and advice leading to inappropriate decision making.

Difficulties with co-operation in respect of sustainable resource utilization. A holistic approach to correct the damage done in the past from fragmentation and ad hoc “crisis” management.

Inability to monitor or manage the ecosystem as a whole – The transboundary nature of the issues and problems in the BCLME necessitates a holistic approach


The first action must be a comprehensive assess of the real needs for human capacity and infrastructural development/maintenance relevant to the identified transbouondary issues in which clear priorities are listed. This must be executed in co-operation with all stakeholders to ensure a proper balance and minimum vested interest bias.

Institutional downsizing, freezing/reduction/non-creation of posts, poor salaries and career prospects are limiting factors. If not addressed, recruitment and training initiatives will provide little or no long-term benefits. It is thus vital that a comprehensive strategy be developed to address the above (. (Much of the problem stems from incorrect perceptions and poor communication.). This activity although very important, is inappropriate for GEF funding, and will be pursued through other avenues.

Develop training partnerships with private sector. This will promote private sector “buy-in” and provide a point of departure for long-term co-financing with industry and business.

Devise, develop and implement appropriate training courses appropriate for the needs of the region. (The focus of courses developed for application in Western Europe and North America is not always suitable for implementation in developing countries.)

Creation of regional multidisciplinary working groups. This will be a cost-effective mechanism for consultation, cooperation, skill development, trust building etc.

Interchange of personnel between countries to gain/ transfer expertise and knowledge. To be successful this must be tri-directional.

Improve networking via internet. It is envisioned that increased use of electronic is the key to the success of the BCLME programme at all levels. It will be particularly beneficial for training and system monitoring.

Improve public information/environmental education (pilot project). There is a relative lack of public awareness about the BCLME, human impacts on the ecosystem, problems to be addressed to ensure its sustainable utilization and conservation of biodiversity, opportunities for job creation and wealth generation etc. A pilot project designed to increase awareness at all levels is seen as important.


Proposed activities are ranked on a scale of 1-3 in terms of their perceived priority. Except for activity asterisked, only those activities which address transboundary problems requiring incremental funding are listed.

Anticipated outputs

Capacity development strategy for the region relevant to addressing transboundary concerns as per the Strategic Action Plan.

Strategy to ensure secure posts for existing and newly trained personnel (including market related remuneration)

New institutional networks taking advantage of the internet and world wide web

Improved regional management of resources

Increased multilevel public awareness of the issues and problems and the need for sustainable integrated management of the BCLME.

Improved infrastructure and improved availability of persons with the necessary skills.












Harmful algal blooms are a conspicuous feature of upwelling systems. The frequency of occurrence, spatial extent and duration of harmful algal blooms appear to be increasing in the BCLME. The harmful effect of these blooms is manifested in two main ways: production of toxins which cause mortalities of shellfish, fish and human; and anoxia in inshore waters which also can lead to massive mortalities of marine organisms.

Natural processes

Introduction of cysts in surface waters

Nutrient loading of coastal waters from anthropogenic activities

Changing state of the Benguela ecosystem

Introduction of exotic species

Poisoning and mortality of human consumers of marine organisms

Mortality (mass) of marine organisms

Disruption of mariculture activities

Interference with recreational use of the sea

Anoxia which in turn may cause massive mortalities of marine organisms

Increase or decrease in incidence and intensity of HABs

Role of HABs in the system as a whole

Contribution of anthropogenic nutrient loading to incidence of HABs

Human mortality

Loss of tourism revenue

Increased cost of shellfish production (monitoring, testing, depuration)

Loss of fish/ shellfish/mariculture markets and jobs

Occurrence of harmful algal blooms in all three countries

Migrations of species across national boundaries

(See Notes)

Develop an HAB reporting system for BCLME region as a whole

Regional HAB contingency plans

Community projects linked to ministries of health

Mitigation of impacts of HABs

Improve national capacity to monitor toxins/species





$50 000

$100 000
$50 000

[$50 000]


HAB regional network

Regional contingency plan

Public education materials

Proactive management



Natural processes – HABs occur naturally in the BCLME. Human impact can cause these HABs to spread, and introduce exotic HAB species into the BCLME.

Introduction of cysts into surface waters – Human activities such as drilling, mining (dredging) and certain types of fishing disturb the sediments and release cysts of HAB species into the water column, thereby triggering new blooms, and expanding the area impacted by HABs.

Nutrient loading of coastal waters from anthropogenic activities – Increased nutrient loading of coastal waters from e.g. sewage discharges and industries increase the probability of occurrence of HAB outbreaks.

Perceived increase in frequency of HABs may be the result of changes in the state of the Benguela ecosystem. (System-wide monitoring for HABs would be required to discern any definite trend.) Nevertheless the changes in SST and wind stress observed in the BCLME this century would be compatible with an increase in HAB frequency and distribution.

Introduction of exotic species (through ballast water, bilge water, mariculture operations etc.) – There is little or no control over the discharge of ballast water from ships entering national waters in the three countries, and there is a suspicion that these discharges may be responsible for the spread of HABs in the BCLME.


HABs affect a wide spectrum of activities in the marine environment. The impacts include:

Poisoning and mortality of human consumers of marine organisms. There is documented evidence of human mortalities in the BCLME as well as non-fatal impacts.

Mortality (mass) of marine organisms. The species at highest risk are the filter feeders (e.g. mussels) and organisms that consume these filter feeders. Mortality can be caused directly by toxins and clogging of gills, and indirectly by depletion of oxygen in the water column.

Disruption of mariculture activities – Mariculture is dependent on good water quality. HABs result in disruption or closure of mariculture facilities necessitating expensive water treatment, isolation of facilities, etc. Depending on the nature of the mariculture venture and the HAB, the closure/disruption can be short-lived or permanent.

Interference with recreational use of the sea – Apart from being toxic and unsightly, some HABs cause respiratory problems in swimmers and those living in close proximity to the sea.

Anoxia which in turn may cause massive mortalities of marine organisms. For example, in a single episode in St Helena Bay, a biomass of rock lobster equivalent to or greater than the annual total allowable catch in the entire southern Benguela was lost as a result of a single HAB outbreak.

Increase or decrease in incidence and intensity of HABs as a consequence of insufficient monitoring.

Role of HABs in the system as a whole

Contribution of anthropogenic nutrient loading to incidence of HABs

Socioeconomic consequences

Human mortality. Deaths have occurred and numerous people have suffered respiratory difficulties and gastro-intestinal problems as a consequence.

Loss of tourism revenue (see impacts)

Increased cost of shellfish production (monitoring, testing, depuration)

Loss of fish/shellfish/mariculture markets and jobs. Mariculture is a potentially valuable growth industry in the BCLME. It is constrained by a general lack of information and knowledge, including lack of information about the extent of the HAB problem in the BCLME.

Transboundary consequences

Incidence and effects of HABs are common to all three countries

HAB outbreaks can be extensive and straddle national boundaries. In addition advective processes together with shipping operations, and bottom trawling, and mining(dredging) can redistribute cysts across national boundaries.

Develop an HAB reporting system for BCLME region as a whole. This is seen as a high priority within the BCLME. It is also essential for the development of a sustainable mariculture industry.

Community awareness projects linked to national ministries of health to alert the public to dangers associated with HABs

Develop national/regional HAB contingency plans which include early warning systems and guidelines for medical practitioners to deal with HAB associated problems

Improve national capacity to analyze for toxins and identify harmful species by sharing expertise between countries

Mitigation of impacts of HABs on mariculture operations (e.g. relocation of mussels rafts, treat blooms with “herbicides”)


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

Anticipated outputs

Established HAB regional reporting network, with transboundary early warning system(to alert neighbouring state when required)

Regional contingency plan for dealing with effects of HABs implemented in all three countries

Public education materials prepared and distributed regionally

Substantial contribution to the sustainable and responsible development of mariculture within the BCLME.

Proactive integrated management in general.

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