Minister Barbara Creecy on World Oceans Day

Take action tp protect our oceans and marine life, says Creecy

“We have a responsibility to protect our oceans as they are vital to health of our planet,” says the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy.

Speaking during the celebration of World Oceans Day at Cape Town Harbour, aboard the SA Agulhas II Research vessel, the Minister pointed to the crucial role the oceans play in the provision of fresh air, food security and in regulating the climate.

“As a nation, we have a responsibility to protect our oceans, and we are committed to working with partners both locally and internationally to ensure the long-term sustainability of our oceans and marine life,” said the Minister.

South Africa is in a unique geographic position at the southern tip of Africa. The country is surrounded by the Atlantic, Southern and Indian Oceans. Through its long-standing research efforts, aided by the SA Agulhas II, in Antarctica and Marion Islands, South Africa has made an important contribution to the scientific understanding of the three oceans and their global impact on marine life and the health of the Planet.

The theme of World Oceans Day 2023 is “Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing”. It is a reminder that despite the fact that the oceans cover most of the Earth, little attention is given to the unprecedented challenges being faced the seas on which humans rely for a variety of resources, and that it is the collective responsibility of all to protect it.

Minister Creecy says it is important that the critical role the oceans play in sustaining life on Earth is addressed through partnerships also drawing attention to the urgent need to address the many threats facing the oceans. These include climate change, pollution, overfishing, and habitat destruction.

The Department is leading the process of developing Marine Sector Plans as part of the Marine Spatial Planning process. Users of our ocean include individuals, communities, fishers, and the mining sector. Ten draft Marine Sector Plans have been published for public comment with the aim of promoting the co-existence of different sectors.

“In an effort to manage competing interests in the marine environment, last year I committed to researching the impact of seismic surveys on the marine environment,” said Minister Creecy

“The Department has produced an assessment of international best practice in mitigating impacts of these surveys and are now determining how these can be used on local ocean areas. We are also working with the Petroleum Agency of SA and the Council for Geo Science to map historic records of seismic surveys to determine if any impact was observed during these previous surveys,” added Creecy.

As part of the World Oceans Day celebrations and awareness raising efforts, the Department is hosting an Open Day for learners today and tomorrow (8 & 9 June 2023), where they will have an opportunity to learn about the importance of the oceans and the role they play in their daily lives. The Open Days take place on board the SA Agulhas II which is docked at Cape Town harbour. The public will have an opportunity to tour the SA Agulhas II on 10 and 11 June 2023, where they will learn more about the work being done by South Africa’s polar and research vessel to monitor, research and protect the oceans and marine life.

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment is hosting 1000 learners on 8 and 9 June, and 4000 members of the public that have booked free tickets to visit the polar research vessel on the weekend of 10 and 11 June.

“We are excited to once again host public open days on board the SA Agulhas II research vessel,” said Minister Creecy. “The last pre-COVID-19 open days saw the vessel visit Gqeberha, East London, Durban and Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, providing members of the public the opportunity to see first-hand the important research being done to understand our ocean environment.”

“Through initiatives such as these, we hope to inspire more South Africans to take action towards a more sustainable future and play an active role in protecting our oceans,” said Minister Creecy.

The World Oceans Day Open Day initiative forms part of the department’s Environment Month activities hosted during June each year. To learn more, visit

For media queries contact Mr Peter Mbelengwa on 082 611 8197

Source: Government of South Africa