WINDHOEK: Local environmental lobby group Swakopmund Matters has applauded United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for launching the new ‘Oceans Compact’ initiative.
The initiative, which aims to achieve ‘healthy oceans for prosperity and sustainable development for all’, was launched at the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea conference held in the Republic of Korea on 12 August this year.
In a letter titled ‘New Threat to Oceans and Marine Life: Marine Phosphate Mining’ which is addressed to Ban and made available to Nampa on Tuesday, the group drew his attention to the possibility of a phosphate mine opening on the Namibian coast.
“If the project goes ahead, it will make a mockery of the UN slogan that the oceans are the very foundation of human life. Such mining projects are in direct opposition to the fundamental tenets of the Ocean Compact, which you described as being there to improve the health of the oceans and for protecting, recovering and sustaining the oceans’ environment and natural resources, and restoring their full food production and livelihoods services,” the letter stated.
Swakopmund Matters has for nearly two years now been campaigning against Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP)’s plans to develop the world’s first marine phosphate project off the coast of Namibia.
NMP told Nampa this week that it is estimated to pay N.dollars 993 million in royalties to Government on an annual basis once it commences the mining of phosphate on the Namibian coastal line.
The company submitted its final Marine Environment Impact Assessment report to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in March this year, which has not yet been approved.
Swakopmund Matter claims that renowned local and international marine scientists who have spent many years studying the unique Namibian offshore ecosystems have been raising their voices in concern at the destructive nature and the long-term or permanent impacts these proposed mining projects could have on sea floor communities and the surrounding environment.
Furthermore, the group also welcomed the Ocean Advisory Group in realising the Ocean Compact Action Plan.
It requested that the advisory group should place marine mining and, in particular, marine phosphate mining on its agenda.
“We hope that your group will manage to formulate policy guidelines that will help prevent this marine activity from becoming a scourge to marine life, its unique biodiversity and rich fishery resources,” it added.
Ban stated at the launch of the initiative earlier this month that the Oceans Compact sets out a strategic vision for the UN system to deliver more coherently and effectively on its oceans-related mandates.