EIA Verification Study (2013/2014)

 

Overall, the results of the Verification Study have not only confirmed the validity of the original 2012 EIA impact assessments, but have, also raised the confidence level  of the assessments to  “high” in all cases.”

 

Following submission of the EIA, a further round of consultation was completed in 2012, this was facilitated by the Governor of the Erongo Region in compliance with the Environmental Commissioner’s requirements. In addition, in accordance with the provision of the Environmental Management Act (Act No. 7 of 2007), the Environmental Commissioner commissioned an independent external review of the EIA, this was undertaken by SAIEA.

 

In regard to the proposed Pre–dredging Baseline Survey (Verification Programme) the Independent External Reviewer (SAIEA) concluded “I have no doubt that if these survey activities are undertaken and the parameters listed are sampled and monitored, sufficient data would be collected and processed to allow for the verification of the impact assessment studies and assumptions. These data will establish useful baselines from which further monitoring activities can be undertaken after any of the proposed dredging cycles have been completed”.

 

In line with the recommendation of the Independent External Reviewer and to address remaining sensitivities and residual concerns of certain parties the Environmental Commissioner advised that the Verification Study proposed in the EMP should be completed. This would then facilitate a fully informed decision regarding the application for the Environmental clearance.

 

The proposed Verification Survey work programme was duly amended and finalised in consultation with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), incorporating several additional studies. Authorisation and approval was obtained from MFMR for all activities related to the fisheries component of the Verification Survey. All key ministries (Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources) were invited to participate as observers in the Verification survey.

 

The Verification Programme was undertaken over a two-year period in 2013 - 2014 and required the mobilization of three separate marine surveys on three different vessels to undertake the various in situ studies and data gathering within and around the 20 year dredging site  SP-1. The work programme included:
•    Deployment of oceanographic instruments to measure currents, temperature, salinity and oxygen;
•    Recovery of additional seabed cores to obtain samples for biogeochemical analysis to determine the potential for dredging to cause the release of hydrogen sulphide and heavy metals into the water column;  
•    Recovery of benthic samples to determine the presence of large sulphur bacteria and the nature of the benthic community inhabiting the upper layers of the sediment;
•    The first-ever systematic analysis of meiofauna on the Namibian Continental Shelf;  
•    A geophysical survey comprising multibeam and side scan sonar was conducted to define seabed character and confirm the absence of deep water corals or other such habitats;
•    Biodiversity Studies - Trawls to assess biodiversity using a monkfish net (modified in accordance with specifications set by MFMR) to determine the nature of the epibenthic community i.e. those organisms living on the surface of the seabed;
•    The same trawls were used to sample the fish communities present with an emphasis on commercially important species, but also assessing non-commercial species;
•    Observations of sea birds and marine mammals throughout all survey activities;
•    A commercial trawler was chartered from the fishing industry for the fishery survey, and staff from MFMR participated in the trawl survey;
•    The Verification Programme activities also were monitored independently by the University of Namibia;
•    Fisheries stock impact assessment modelling;
•    Fisheries spawning and recruitment studies using MFMR supplied data and impact assessment;
•    Plume impact assessment study review; and,
•    Ecosystem modelling to assess potential ecosystem level impacts

 

Overall, the results of the Verification Study have not only confirmed the validity of the original 2012 EIA, but have, also raised the assessment confidence level to the high category in all cases.

 

The Verification study report was submitted to the Environmental Commissioner in December 2014 along with the updated EMP.

 

     
Read:   2014 EIA Verification Study Report (Executive Summary)

 


The full EIA Verification Report is available upon application via the office of the Environmental Commissioner.

Email:    saima{@}met.gov.na  or  hiskia.mbura{@}met.gov.na

 

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