Namibia: Covid-19 Denies Local Researchers Climate-Change Study

NAMIBIAN marine researchers are not part of the Benguela upwelling system climate-change research carried out by the German research vessel Sonne.

The two-month research expedition, known as SO285, is looking for answers on how climate change affects the marine ecosystem in the rich Namibian and South African fishing grounds. Graca D’Almeida, the director of research management in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, says Namibian researchers could not form part of the team due to Covid-19 regulations.

“Namibian scientists do participate in these research programmes, but will not be on board due to the Covid-19 logistics involved. We have access to the data and use it for our Namibian State of the Marine Environment updates,” D’Almeida says.

She says Germany, in collaboration with Benguela Current Commission countries, including Namibia, have oceanographic moorings (permanent research structures) along the coast to monitor oceanographic parameters.

These moorings need regular service, data retrieval and battery changes. However, due to the pandemic, the German institution’s staff could not travel to service these moorings.

“They have decided to send a German research vessel to travel from Cape Town to Germany, doing oceanographic monitoring and research while attending to the moorings. This was always done with Namibian participation and support – often during our RV Mirabilis surveys,” D’Almeida says.

According to the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, the voyage involves 30 researchers from universities and institutes in Germany and South Africa. It will be headed by Tim Rixen as chief scientist. The Buengela current provides about 20% of annual global fish landings, and thus plays a significant role in the world population’s food supply.

With the decline of sardines in Namibian waters, there has been an increase iin other fish species.

The scientists will be looking at the ocean’s capacity to store greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) as a result of these developments.

“The task of the researchers on board the RV SONNE is to decipher processes that help to clarify how the circulation of the ocean under the influence of regional coastal morphology affects the productivity of the marine ecosystem, as well as its capacity to store CO2. Understanding such processes is essential to improve predictions and adapt guidelines for the use of marine ecosystems to global change, and thus contribute to food security and climate protection,” Rixen says.

Last year the researchers could not collect data due to Covid-19 restrictions.

This has created a gap in the longterm database of fisheries, since no samples from fishing companies and the ocean have been received during this period. The Covid-19 lockdown has also caused the accumulation of unanalysed data for a number of species.


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Author : Namibian

Publish date : 2021-10-01 08:25:16

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