Unlocking the Economic Potential of South Africa's Oceans


Title: Unlocking the Economic Potential of South Africa's Oceans
Publication Date:
August 15, 2014
Pages: 55

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Operation Phakisa (2014). Unlocking the Economic Potential of South Africa's Oceans [Presentation].

South Africa has jurisdiction over a very large Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.5 mn km2. Extended continental shelf claims will double the size of its ocean geography if successful. With such a large jurisdiction, effective governance is critical but will be challenging given the size and complexity of our oceans. Currently, the sectoral approach only gives a partial picture and it difficult to achieve balance. Effective ocean governance will need to identify and manage interdependencies across socio-economic aspirations and environmental integrity.


The Marine Protection Services and Governance (MPSG) Lab aspires to implement an overarching, integrated governance framework for sustainable growth of the ocean economy that will maximise socio-economic benefits while ensuring adequate ocean environmental protection within the next five years by:

  • Developing an overarching governance plan by March 2016
  • Protecting the ocean environment from all illegal activities and promoting its multiple socio-economic benefits with results by 2017, including a Marine Protected Area (MPA) representative network, reducing illegal activities and monitoring water quality
  • Delivering a National Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Framework by December 2015, a Regional (Sub-national) MSP Framework and a more detailed small-scale Marine Spatial (MS) Management Plan to enable a sustainable ocean economy


The MPSG Lab developed 10 key initiatives to achieve the above objectives:

  • Ministerial Committee and Oceans Secretariat to govern activities
  • Enhancement of legislation into the Integrated Coastal and Oceans Management (ICOM) Act or Oceans Act
  • Review of ocean-related legislation
  • Accelerated capacity-building intervention in ocean governance
  • Enhanced and Coordinated Enforcement Programme
  • National ocean and coastal information system and extending earth observation capacity
  • National Ocean and Coastal Water Quality Monitoring Programme
  • Creation of an MPA Representative Network
  • MPA/MSPG Discovery, Research and Monitoring Programme
  • MSP Process


The initiatives will cost ZAR 1.7 bn over the next five years, 53% of which will come from already committed programmes. Implementation of all initiatives will be overseen by the Oceans Secretariat, with primary support from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Department of Agriculture, Forestry And Fisheries (DAFF) and Department of Science and Technology (DST).

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