Benguela Current Marine Spatial Management and Governance (MARISMA)

Project description

Title: Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME)
Commissioned by: The German Federal Ministry for  the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)
Country: Angola, Namibia, South Africa
Lead executing agency: Benguela Current Commission (BCC)
Overall term: 2014 to 2022


The Benguela Current ecosystem extends along the coast of Angola, Namibia and South Africa in the southeastern Atlantic. It is one of the world’s most productive marine regions with unique biological diversity. Important industries in the region include aquaculture, maritime transport and the extraction of natural resources such as oil, gas, diamonds and other minerals.

In 2014, the governments of Angola, Namibia and South Africa ratified the Benguela Current Convention (BCC). The three countries thus recognise the transboundary natural capital and promote the commercial use of this common ecosystem. The ultimate aim is to realise a holistic vision. Accordingly, the socio-economic development potential of the maritime region is to be used in such a way that all industry sectors and the societies of the countries can sustainably benefit from it.


Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) sustainably governs the maritime economy in the Benguela Current ecosystem, while helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem by integrating conservation objectives for marine biodiversity into the planning process.


The project supports the sustainable marine use of the Benguela Current by implementing marine spatial planning (MSP). This is a decision-making process that guides when and where human activities occur in the ocean. The aim is to permit the right activity to be performed in the right place in a way that sustainably supports the development of the blue economy in the region to the benefit of people and the environment. MSP helps sectoral decision-makers plan in consultation with other maritime users. It identifies spatial conflicts and synergies that can benefit as many industries as possible through the shared use of marine areas. This is a prerequisite for sustainable marine development. The project supports the contracting parties of the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) in identifying ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs).

The project applies a learning-by-doing approach. Multiple interventions at both national and regional level ensure sustainable capacity development. The goal is to enable and provide concrete learning opportunities and garner experience from the practical implementation of MSP and the description of EBSAs. Marine spatial plans have been developed for each country. These have been drawn up based on the current and future location of human activity in the planning territories. Work on EBSAs enables countries to transition to a science-based management of their (transboundary) marine diversity.

The project designs all its activities in such a way that capacities can be expanded and enhanced, and competences already available in the region can be utilised – for instance, by organising a knowledge transfer and on-the-job training. In addition, the project implements a communication and awareness-raising strategy aimed at informing the public about the benefits of MSP and EBSA. Lessons learned are shared nationally, within the region and globally.


So far, the project has supported the introduction of MSP processes at national and regional level. The three countries have evaluated the current status of human activities in their planning territories and have drawn up spatial plans accordingly. An MSP strategy for the BCC region has been drafted and approved by the BCC structure. 16 existing EBSAs in the region have been updated and 11 new EBSAs described with two remaining unchanged. Parts of the EBSAs have already been proclaimed as MPAs and others are in the process of being proclaimed. The effects of human influence have been analysed and management recommendations developed. More than 220 government representatives have received training in courses and study trips to European countries.

Last update: March 2021

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