Windhoek — Cabinet has approved the new draft National Marine Pollution Contingency Plan (NMPCP) to better deal with marine pollution, not only from oil spills in Namibian waters but also from hazardous and noxious substances.
Namibia had to review its marine pollution preparedness and response system in order to make it more responsive to the prevailing risk scenarios and align it to international best practices.
This included completely revising the oil-focused National Oil Spill Contingency Plan of 2007 and renaming it the NMPCP, which makes provision for hazardous and noxious substances in line with the Protocol on Preparedness,
Response and Co-operation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances of 2000.
NMPCP aims to promote a sustainable funding model, while recognising the need to develop and maintain a shared responsibility and the commitment of all stakeholders to provide effective marine pollution prevention, preparedness and response services in Namibia, the wider region and internationally.
Minister of Information and Communication Technology Tjekero Tweya, who made the announcement during a Cabinet briefing yesterday, said the new plan aims to ensure a clean marine environment.
"We're putting all this into motion. For those bringing oil spills, we will have all these necessary measures in place. We want to protect our sea. It's about the clean environment," Tweya stated.
Last year Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila announced that the old system is no longer sufficient, nor sustainable to effectively manage the fast-evolving risk profile, driven primarily by the growth and significance of the Port of Walvis Bay as a gateway to southern Africa.
She said one of the effects of government's deliberate efforts to position Namibia as a regional logistics hub is that, more than ever before, more and bigger ships are visiting the port to facilitate the country's imports and exports, as well that of neighbouring states.
In addition, she noted that Namibia is an attractive investment destination for offshore energy exploration and production, which are crucial to Namibia's future energy security and socio-economic development.
She noted though that, unfortunately, the above economic activities also mean that the risk of serious marine pollution, not only from oil spills, but also from hazardous and noxious substances is greater than before.
This threatens Namibia's marine resources and the coastline, which in its entirety is classified as a national park and is endowed with biodiversity and natural resources.
Namibia's first National Oil Spill Contingency Plan was approved by Cabinet 10 years ago, giving effect to Namibia's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 and the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation of 1990.
The old plan provided for a coordinated and integrated national system for dealing with oil spills in Namibian waters and was characterised by willing and effective cooperation between government and the private sector.
The prime minister urged all stakeholders involved in marine pollution management to use the renewed strategic focus provided by this new national plan to reinforce the entire system at ship, port, local, regional and national levels.
The national plan aim to minimise the impact of marine pollution from vessels, maritime facilities and oil and chemical terminals, as well as offshore petroleum facilities upon the Namibian people, environment, economy and infrastructure.
In responding to marine pollution incidents, Namibia will adopt the Incident Management System (IMS), which was designed to be adaptable to the individual circumstances of the incident and the particular agencies involved.