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Southwestern Africa: northern Benguela Current region
Boyer, D.; Cole, J.; Bartholomae, C. (2000). Southwestern Africa: northern Benguela Current region, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 1. Regional chapters: Europe, The Americas and West Africa. pp. 821-840
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 1. Regional chapters: Europe, The Americas and West Africa. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 934 pp., more

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Document type: Review


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  • Boyer, D.
  • Cole, J.
  • Bartholomae, C.

    Southwestern Africa is strongly affected by the Benguela Current, which is one of the world's four major eastern boundary currents, influencing the coastal environments of western South Africa, Namibia and southern Angola. A major effect is the upwelling of cool, nutrient-rich water along the coastal edge of the continental shelf, creating the necessary conditions for a highly productive food chain, culminating in large fish stocks. The coastal margin of the Northern Benguela is bounded by the extremely arid Namib Desert, whose one source of permanent fresh water is the Kunene River. The low population density has resulted in very low human impacts. The offshore region supports large fish stocks, the most important being small pelagics, horse mackerel and hakes. Namibia has a large and economically important fishing industry. Heavy fishing pressure, particularly prior to independence in 1990, resulted in depletion of many of the living marine resources. Since independence, the re-building of depleted stocks has been encouraged through strictly enforced management controls, mainly by limited Total Allowable Catches. Several stocks are now showing signs of a sustained recovery, and annual catches have been allowed to increase. Other stocks, notably pilchard, remain depleted. The remoteness of this region and low population density ensures that much of the region will remain in a pristine state into the new millennium and the foreseeable future. Development along the coastline, if managed responsibly, need not result in any long-term degradation of vulnerable habitats. The greatest political and scientific challenge will be the re-establishment of fully recovered fish stocks. Achieving this goal will involve continued improvement of stock assessment techniques and a better understanding of the natural processes that control the population dynamics of species in the region.

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