Minister Edna Molewa returns from G7 Leaders Summit

Minister Molewa returns from a G7 Leaders Summit focusing on oceans

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, returned today, Tuesday, 12 June 2018, from Canada where she accompanied President Cyril Ramaphosa, for the G7 Leaders' Summit Outreach.

The summit's theme: Healthy, Productive and Resilient Oceans and Seas, Coasts and Communities, addresses many of the opportunities and challenges that are the focus of South Africa's Operation Phakisa: oceans economy. This programme seeks to unlock the economic potential of South Africa's oceans, growing the GDP and creating jobs, while also ensuring healthy, productive and resilient ocean resources.

Minister Molewa accompanied President Ramaphosa and a business delegation from South Africa. President Ramaphosa's participation in the G7 Leaders' Summit Outreach coincides with his drive to attract investment to grow the economy, create jobs and address poverty and inequality in South Africa.

The focus of the G7 Outreach meeting on Healthy, Productive and Resilient Oceans and Seas, Coasts and Communities, is in line with the goals outlined in South Africa's National Development Plan and speaks to the country's efforts to stimulate economic growth and job creation by, amongst others, unlocking the oceans economy through Operation Phakisa.

The six growth areas, with lead departments in each area, have been prioritised to contribute to unlocking the economic potential of South Africa's oceans, based on their potential contribution to economic growth and job-creation, namely:

Marine Transport and Manufacturing led by the Department of Transport;

Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration led by the Department of Mineral Resources;

Aquaculture led by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries;

Marine Protection Services and Ocean Governance led by the Department of Environmental Affairs;

Small Harbours Development led by the Department of Public Works (three feet planning mini- Lab to commence in 2018); and

Coastal and Marine Tourism led by the Department of Tourism.

As the world grapples with intractable challenges such as poverty, economic growth, food security and high unemployment rates, the oceans have increasingly come under the spotlight as countries seek economic opportunities in the ocean space to address some of these challenges.

At the same time, there is increasing recognition that the world's oceans are under severe pressure, especially from human activities. Some of the critical challenges include:

Marine pollution, in particular plastics (whether land-based or from shipping) and micro plastics;

Loss of biodiversity;

Unsustainable fishing practices and overfishing;

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing;

Ocean acidification; and

Mining.

The key challenge therefore is to build and implement programmes that harness the productive potential of ocean resources in a manner that is sustainable. Key to this is the establishment of strong governance and institutional arrangements that facilitate orderly spatial planning and co-ordination of activities within the ocean.

South Africa's Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Bill, provides a framework for coordinated planning across multiple sectors, ensuring orderly use of the sea space and addressing competing uses, especially in sensitive and vulnerable areas of the environment. The consultations and Public Hearings have been concluded and it is going through the Parliamentary process.

The associated Marine Spatial Planning Framework had been finalised and the development of regional and sub-regional Marine Spatial Management Plans has since been initiated on the South Coast as the first planning area. Valuable research is being undertaken to inform such management plans.

Thus far, the oceans economy has secured investments of about R26.3 billion and created 6 633 jobs since October 2014, mainly in infrastructure development - especially ports, marine manufacturing - mainly boatbuilding, aquaculture, as well scientific and seismic surveys in the oil and gas sector. The empowerment of women, the youth and small, medium and micro enterprises remain a focus in the implementation of initiatives within the oceans economy.

Some of the highlights include the development of a National Guideline towards the Establishment of Coastal Management Lines. This is intended to minimise risks posed by short and long term coastal processes such as storm surges, erosion and sea level rise.

A National Coastal Access Strategy is also under development to provide guidance around access for the public to closed-off beaches. In addition, a review of the strategic plan on dealing with estuaries and a national status quo assessment are being conducted.

Source: Government of South Africa