Namibian Government Announces 18-month Moratorium on Seabed Mining

Good news came out of Namibia last night, as the government declared an 18-month moratorium on all experimental seabed mining in Namibian waters, pending a more comprehensive environmental impact assessment. Pressure from both environmental groups and the fishing industry ultimately led to this decision. Both sets of stakeholders, as well as scientists and members of the international community, have legitimate concerns regarding the safety of seabed mining. This is the precautionary principal as it was meant to be implemented.

According to Swakopmund Matters, a seafloor mining protest group in Namibia:

The message conveyed by the Namibian decision is bold and clear. It will resonate throughout the world where battles are being fought against actions by mining companies that will harm, if not destroy, important marine areas. It will embolden all those who are standing up for the protection of their marine environments. But even more important, it will demonstrate to other governments that environmental concerns do take precedent over companies’ questionable actions when it comes to their exploitation of the oceans. Furthermore, that the Namibia government is not prepared to be a guinea pig for an untested and unknown endeavor. It refused to let its ocean and marine resources become the proverbial experimental playground.

(Source is a press release e-mailed to me.)

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Biodiversity Wednesday: The Skeleton Coast

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A 900-mile coastline runs perpendicular to the border of Angola and Namibia. The cold water carried up from the antarctic by the Benguela Current meets the warm, dry air of the Namib Desert and the resulting depression forms a cold, dense fog that extends out into the sea. The currents and wind combine to produce a force pushing inexorably towards shore. These conditions led mariners to christen this seemingly desolate and inhospitable stretch of sand the Skeleton Coast.

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