Sustainability of the Benguela: ex Africa semper aliquid novi
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The Benguela Current ecosystem is situated along the coast of south western Africa, stretching from east of the Cape of Good Hope, in the south, northwards into Angola waters and encompassing the full extent of Namibia’s marine environment. It is one of the four major coastal upwelling ecosystems of the world which lie at the eastern boundaries of the oceans. Like the Humboldt, California and Canary systems, the Benguela is an important centre of marine biodiversity and marine food production. Its distinctive bathymetry, hydrography, chemistry and trophodynamics combine to make it one of the most productive ocean areas in the world, with a mean annual primary productivity of 1.25 kilograms of carbon per square metre per year—about six times higher than the North Sea ecosystem. This high level of primary productivity of the Benguela supports an important global reservoir of biodiversity and biomass of zooplankton, fish, sea birds and marine mammals, while near-shore and off-shore sediments hold rich deposits of precious minerals (particularly diamonds), as well as oil and gas reserves.