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Shallow Sea Mining: Balancing Environmental Regulations and Resource Extraction

Dr Natasha Karenyi (UCT, South Africa)

In the latest episode of the AtlantECO podcast, we delve into one of our case studies, which aims to apply the knowledge and resources developed in the project to existing challenges in shallow sea mining. Our guest, Natasha Karenyi, sheds light on the considerations necessary for developing and implementing environmental regulations of coastal areas.

Natasha, marine biologist and lecturer at the University of Cape Town, shares her journey toward studying and researching marine biology. With a childhood curiosity sparked by high school biology classes and a love for swimming, Natasha's passion for the ocean led her to specialise in benthic ecology and pursue a PhD at the Nelson Mandela University.

In our case study, we focus on two countries, Namibia and South Africa, both of which have keen interests in diamond and phosphate mining, as well as petroleum extraction. However, these countries have different policy frameworks, data limitations, and understandings of their marine systems. Natasha highlights the specific challenges and needs within each country and the importance of addressing them to develop effective environmental regulations.

Supporting Policy Making through AtlantECO: to address these challenges, AtlantECO implements various strategies. In Namibia, they collaborate with the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and Debmarine Namibia to provide baseline benthic information for informed policy decisions.

In South Africa, they work with the Department of Mineral Resources to develop guidelines for environmental management of ocean mining.

Through research and collaborative efforts, Natasha and her team have identified several challenges that hinder effective environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and marine spatial planning (MSP) processes. These challenges include the lack of consideration for cumulative and indirect impacts, insufficient inclusion of social and economic aspects, and limited access to information; these aspects were all included in the recommendations made recently. As we progress, we aim to further support the different stakeholders in their endeavour to develop EIA processes, streamline reporting standards across sectors, and enhance the integration of social and economic considerations.


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