- Norwegian Fisheries Minister Svein Ludvigsen is touring Southern Africa, signing new fisheries development agreements with Namibia and South Africa. The focus is on empowering local researchers and policy makers to develop sustainable and revenue-generating national fisheries. Norway, on the other hand, expects Southern African policy support in international bodies.
South Africa's Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk today announced the signing of a more than Rand 40 million (euro 5 million) marine fisheries business plan with his Norwegian counterpart. The 2005-2009 business plan was to provide South Africa's industry with "much-needed research capacity, skills training, and the tools to help develop our coastal communities," said Minister van Schalkwyk.
Norway and South Africa had formalised their fisheries cooperation in 2000 with a programme that focused on policy and legislation development, scholarships and training, scientific capacity building, and the management of subsistence fisheries. "The value of the Norwegian marine fisheries assistance during the first Decade of South African democracy has been estimated to be in excess of Rand 45 million," according to the South African Minister.
The Scandinavian country is a regional great power within the fisheries sector. While economically included in the European Union (EU), Norway's fisheries sector remains outside the EU's capacity and Norway does not form part of the large EU fleet trawling African waters. The Oslo government also has its own national agenda in the sector, including stronger national sovereignty rights over fish stocks for coastal countries and deregulation of the whaling industry.
In Southern Africa, Norway has had a high capacity-building profile to enable governments taking control of their own fisheries instead of selling off quotas to for example the EU and Japan. According to Minister van Schalkwyk, "about half of all previously disadvantaged scientists employed by our Marine and Coastal Management Branch have been trained in Norway."
Also in Namibia, which is the next destination for the Norwegian Fisheries Minister, the Scandinavians are heavily present. According to the Norwegian development agency (Norad), "Norway since 1990 has contributed with almost Kroner 330 million [euro 40 million] to develop the fisheries sector in Namibia."
The Norwegian aid to Namibia also focused on fisheries management - including control measures and a legal framework - research and education. Also in Namibia, emphasis had been empowering the Windhoek government and local stakeholders to develop sustainable local fisheries instead of selling off quotas to foreign fleets.
When Minister Ludvigsen arrives Namibia, new cooperation agreements are to be signed. The Minister is also to "undertake the official opening of a Norway-supported centre for information and marketing of fish and fisheries products in Namibia," according to the Norwegian government. After his visit in Namibia, Mr Ludvigsen is heading for Mozambique.
- The three countries are important fisheries nations and players within international maritime politics, the Norwegian Minister said before his departure. He said he would discuss cooperation on "several issues such as ... the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)," where Norway and Southern Africa "have parallel interests." While Norway is lobbying for trade on some whaling products, Southern Africa urges CITES to allow a limited ivory trade.
In Cape Town, Minister van Schalkwyk also announced a stronger cooperation regarding Dronning Maud Land - a large territory in the Antarctic just south of South Africa, claimed by Norway. "In February we will also be participating in the inaugural flight to the new Antarctic runway that will be opened in the Dronning Maud Land - a major new point of access to the research bases in that region," said the South African Minister.
- The new runway will help us to establish and develop Cape Town as the next major gateway to the Antarctic, according to Minister van Schalkwyk. South Africa has not recognised Norway's claim to this vast territory in the Antarctic but is party to UN treaties governing the Antarctic.
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