Marine environmental survey of bottom sediments in Cabinda and Soyo province, Angola. Survey of the bottom fauna and selected physical and chemical compounds in April 2009
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The co-existence of the fisheries, sea transport and oil sectors is a worldwide challenge related to sustainable utilization of marine living resources in particular, and conservation and protection of the marine environment in general. An important factor in safeguarding this co-existence between different commercial users of the marine environment has been the development of legislation and policy instruments and the establishment of governmental institutions, NGOs and private institutions. The new monitoring plan for Angola, called “Environmental Monitoring of the Petroleum Activities on the Angolan Continental Shelf” has been the basis for this survey in Cabinda and Soyo. The coast of Cabinda from S 5º00 to S 6º00 consists mainly of sandy beaches, lined with sand dunes. The area is part of the marine ecosystem called GCLME (Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem). Cabinda is strongly influenced by the fresh water discharge from the Congo River which has the second largest water flow in the world behind the Amazon. Most of the water from Congo River flows northward affecting the horizontal and vertical gradient of temperature and salinity in the Cabinda area. In addition pollutants from big cities along the river, agriculture and runoff from land may give effects on marine life. The coast of Soyo from S 6º00 to S 7º00 is part of the marine ecosystem called BCLME (Bengulea Current Large Marine Ecosystem). Soyo is located south of Congo River. For more than 50 years, oil exploration and production have taken place in Cabinda. The petroleum industry is operating both on land and offshore. There is a concern that this petroleum activity may have negative impact on the marine recourses resulting in reduced recruitment to fishstocks or loss of marine biodiversity. In addition there is a concern among other users of the sea, especially among the artisanal fishermen and other people living along the coast making their income from the sea. Besides the possible impact on the marine ecosystem these people also fear health problems for themselves and coming generation. Another concern in addition to possible pollution is the access to fishing grounds and beaches where they traditionally have made their work and living. A reduced water quality and increased industrial activity will probably also be negative for the tourism industry. With all these possible impacts on the ecosystem with possible impact on different users of the sea it is important to make as good documentation as possible of the environmental conditions in an area. This makes it possible take action if the conditions show to be severely influenced by some specific activities. To be able to have a good environmental monitoring, an environmental monitoring plan covering the areas of concern must be in place. When time series is established it is possible to see if the situation is stable or if pollution is increasing. Lomba was investigated 3 years ago (2006), and the result from the 2009 survey can tell us if there have been any changes in the benthic community and concentration of hydrocarbon and heavy metal in the sediment. The bottom fauna samples collected at the Palanca field in Soyo will be processed at INIP in Angola in cooperation with IMR and presented in a separate report.