Concern over possible oil dumping at the coast

15 Oct 2014 11:40am
SWAKOPMUND, 15 OCT (NAMPA) - A maritime surveillance aircraft fitted with radar would be the best equipment for the detection of oil dumping in Namibian waters.
This was suggested by Eric Haase, a satellite technology lecturer at the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) on Tuesday during his presentation at the sixth annual Science Forum of the Benguela Current Commission in Swakopmund.
The forum started on Monday.
Maritime surveillance aircraft perform a number of missions such as pollution detection and mapping, search and rescue, maritime surveillance, border patrol, fisheries’ control, anti-smuggling patrols, offshore oil-field monitoring and research applications.
Oil spills can kill marine birds such as penguins and pelicans, and mammals such as whales and seals, as well as fish and shellfish.
Haase said patrol vessels and small craft are currently used to patrol the coastal waters, but there is a need for an aircraft fitted with radar.
“There could be oil dumping in Namibian waters which is not detected yet.
Even if it could be detected, it is difficult to catch the culprits without airborne surveillance,” he stated.
Haase indicated that patrols are now also challenged by a lack of clear vision at night and fog on some days. As such, it is difficult to detect who is dumping the oil.
A combination of technological radar and aircraft would thus defeat such challenges.
“A surveillance aircraft is able to patrol a large area, even at night, and can detect oil spills in the water from above.
When a ship is seen dumping oil, the craft can easily come closer to that vessel and take pictures as evidence for conviction,” he stressed.
The lecturer indicated that these are the findings of his voluntary survey on initiatives to establish a marine oil spill surveillance programme in Namibia.
The Danish lecturer said since he is about to return home in two months, he is willing to provide his survey results to Namibian researchers so that they can solicit funding and continue with it.
“Somebody should take over this project so that you can do something about the dangers of oil dumping in Namibian waters,” he noted.
The last oil spill in Namibia was detected in 2009 along the coast of Lüderitz.
It covered about 100 kilometres of the coastline and affected more than 156 African Penguins, which were rescued.
About 100 marine scientists and researchers are attending the three-day forum, which ends on Wednesday.
It is discussing ways to protect and preserve the marine ecosystem in the three partnering countries, being Namibia, South Africa and Angola.
The Benguela Current Commission, an inter-governmental organisation which coordinates the efforts of the three countries in promoting the long-term conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, is hosting the conference.