As South Africa joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Oceans Day (WOD), Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, told the Oceans Conference in New York, that South Africa has earmarked the ocean to promote economic growth and to boost job creation in line with the National Development Plan.
“We have an ocean space that is greater than our land territory, and the extended continental shelf claim will double the size of this ocean geographic extent. The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 is key in addressing these ever-increasing global environmental challenges of our times and re-commits the international community to a strengthened global partnership, given the necessary means of implementation, to secure a sustainable future,” she said.
The South African Ocean region is globally recognised as unique and a hotspot of marine biodiversity and has over 10 000 marine species. The region is at a unique crossroads. The Atlantic, Southern and Indian Ocean’s fishing grounds are among the healthiest worldwide, and coastal tourism is among the biggest income earners for many countries.
Ports and other coastal infrastructure are growing in importance and the region is crossed by some of the world’s main shipping lanes. Emerging prospects of oil and gas development offer unprecedented opportunities for growth.
“But the accompanying challenges are great, with a high risk of environmental and socio-economic impacts. Nevertheless, the prospect for a vibrant sustainable blue economy is on our doorstep and the framing of the SDGs provides both a vision and focused goals and targets for balancing economic, social and environmental aims, to bring benefits for the people of the region, said Minister Molewa.
One of these challenges is marine pollution. Since roughly 80% of all marine pollution stems from activities carried out on land, more effort can be focused on tackling land-derived pollution.
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is mandated, among others, to manage and protect South Africa’s coastal water quality, to support all beneficial uses of coastal water such as recreation, fishing, aquaculture and desalination.
“Considering the target on reducing marine pollution, we realise that tackling land-based sources of marine pollution will require the challenging, but necessary collaboration with a variety of sectors and user groups. We have also optimised our efforts to handle this important matter through our regional partnerships, said Minister Molewa.
As part of the implementation of the Operations Phakisa: Oceans Economy, we have registered substantial progress. South Africa has, to date, unlocked a total of R17.7bn in investment through the Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy process in the five initially identified areas which is Offshore Oil and Gas, Aquaculture, Marine Manufacturing and Transport, Oceans Governance and Tourism.
World Oceans Day is celebrated annually on the 8th of June and has a history spanning over two decades. This year’s theme is Our Oceans, Our Future focusing on encouraging solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter for a healthier ocean and a better future.
Herewith also click below a link to Dr Edna Molewa’s statement on the occasion of the UN Conference to support the implementation of SDG14: Conserve and sustainable use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development delivered in New York.