Walvis Bay strives for innovative blue economy development

Niël Terblanché

The use of existing infrastructure and available assets to stimulate economic growth forms the core of the recently launched Local Economic Development Strategy by the Municipal Council of Walvis Bay.
During the official opening of the Walvis Bay Maritime Festival on Friday, Mayor Trevino Forbes said that the maritime industry is one such valuable asset which forms the economic backbone of the port city.

“The Maritime industry is ingrained in Walvis Bay’s heritage and existence, making it the perfect sector to mark our voyage in pursuit of economic prosperity,” the mayor said.

Forbes said the Maritime Festival will be presented under the theme of ‘Preserving a Healthy Ocean Ecosystem for a Resilient Economy’ and that it is a call to action to safeguard and protect the resource to continue enjoying the economic benefits and pristine living standard brought about by the maritime industry.

He added that the sector is intertwined with the merchant, mining, fishing logistics, tourism and energy sectors.

Forbes said the festival is an excellent platform to enlighten residents about the different sectors involved directly or indirectly in the maritime industry by availing them of the opportunity to showcase their products and services.

“What better way to ensure the sector’s continued economic resilient than educating and guiding the future leaders towards careers that will ensure the sector’s continued success in the global trade market,” he said.

According to the mayor, the global trade system is changing faster than ever and as such the town cannot continue to play a game of wait and see.

“A resilient maritime sector requires coordinated actions and transformation across all system elements, from policymakers, service and infrastructure developers, from vessel, cargo owners to downstream logistics providers. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, today marks our first step and, we invite all businesses, development partners, and stakeholders on our voyage towards Economic Resilience and World Class Competitive Edge through this inaugural Maritime Festival,” he said.

The mayor said that Walvis Bay can secure a spot in the global market for its maritime industry when role players work together towards the goal.

“The festival is our opportunity to celebrate our rich maritime heritage and highlight the importance of preserving our oceans for a sustainable and resilient economy. It is also an opportunity to shed light on the significant contributions of the blue economy to our town’s economic growth and development,” he said.

According to Forbes, the blue economy encompasses a wide range of sectors, including marine transportation, fisheries, renewable energy, tourism, and more. He added that the ocean plays a critical role in sustaining life on the planet.

“It provides us with food, employment, and endless opportunities for economic growth and development,” he said.

The mayor said that there is a pressing need to take action and preserve this invaluable resource for future generations. He added that Walvis Bay has the potential to tap into the blue economy in several ways.

He said that Walvis Bay can develop and strengthen its fishing industry by promoting sustainable fishing practices by supporting local fishers and investing in aquaculture operations to diversify seafood production.

The Local Authority has identified several plots for aquaculture as our direct contribution towards the cause.

He added that Walvis Bay is known for its stunning coastlines, marine wildlife, and unique landscapes.

“By developing and promoting tourism initiatives such as wildlife tours, beach activities, and coastal cruises, the town can attract visitors, and create employment opportunities,” Forbes said.

He said that Walvis Bay has been investing in port infrastructure and services, attracting shipping and logistics companies.

“By improving port facilities can increase trade and import/export activities and generate economic growth,” he said.

He said that Walvis Bay can explore renewable energy options like offshore wind farms, wave energy, or desalination plants.

“Harnessing these resources can reduce dependency on fossil fuels and contribute to a more sustainable energy future,” the mayor said.

According to Forbes, establishing partnerships with universities, research institutions, and private companies can promote marine research, innovation, and the development of new technologies to address environmental challenges and improve resource management.

“In short, Walvis Bay can capitalize on its coastal advantages by focusing on sustainable fishing, marine tourism, port development, renewable energy, and research to actively participate in and benefit from the blue economy,” he said.

He said that the community of Walvis Bay face numerous challenges when it comes to the health of our ocean ecosystem.

“Plastic pollution, overfishing, and climate change are just a few examples of the threats that our oceans face. These issues not only impact marine life but also jeopardize the livelihoods and well-being of our local communities,” he said.

The mayor said that he has faith that the community can overcome the challenges by being stewards of the ocean and protecting it for the benefit of all.

“Together we must work towards sustainable solutions that promote environmental conservation while fostering a resilient economy,” he said and added that the Walvis Bay Maritime Festival should serve as a platform for education, awareness, and collaboration.

Forbes was of the opinion that by pooling resources and expertise, people will find innovative solutions to complex problems.

“One of our key focuses should be reducing plastic pollution. We should be committed to implementing effective waste management programs, promoting recycling, and encouraging the use of sustainable alternatives. By taking small steps in our daily lives, such as minimizing single-use plastic, we can collectively make a big difference,” he said.

The mayor insisted that overfishing must be addressed to ensure the sustainable management of the fisheries sector.

“This includes implementing responsible fishing practices, establishing protected marine areas, and supporting local fishermen in adopting sustainable techniques.

By doing so, we can maintain the delicate balance of our marine ecosystems and protect the livelihoods of those who depend on them,” he said.

According to Forbes, climate change poses a significant threat not only to the oceans but to the entire planet.

“We must make concerted efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and transition to cleaner, renewable energy sources. By embracing green technologies and promoting sustainable practices, we can mitigate the impact of climate change on our oceans and create a more resilient future,” he added.

He encouraged all role players to work towards a common goal of preserving the ocean ecosystem and building a resilient economy.

“The Walvis Bay Maritime Festival is just the beginning of our journey towards a healthier ocean and a brighter future. With unity, determination, and innovation, we can make a lasting difference. Together, let us create a legacy that future generations will be proud of,” he said.

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