The South African government is developing a blue economy strategy to help realise the full potential of its marine resources, Dr Monde Mayekiso, the deputy director general of the Department of Environmental Affairs, said at a meeting in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
“South Africa has large ocean spaces and we are beginning to appreciate the value of this vital national asset and how it can contribute to our livelihoods and economy,” Mayekiso said.
He said technology was helping to unlock the country’s marine resources, the sustainable use of which could make a meaningful contribution towards job creation in years to come.
“Much of our ocean remains unexplored and … there is a need to urgently gather information and describe what resources are available and how they can be used sustainably,” he said.White PaperThe White Paper on the National Environmental Management of the Ocean (Nemo) was gazetted on 29 May. Approved by Cabinet in December 2013, Nemo aims to govern activities and marine stakeholders to ensure optimal and sustainable use of the marine environment.
The ocean economy has been identified by the National Development Plan as one of the key drivers to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality in South Africa by 2030.
Mayekiso noted that the policy would help give effect to the environmental rights in the Constitution. The general statutory framework is provided by the National Environmental Management Act and other relevant legislation, which envisages on a high degree of co-operative governance between organs of state pursuing economic development and those tasked with environmental responsibilities.
“A number of key areas such as aquaculture, marine transport, offshore oil and gas exploration are crucial in growing the economy, providing much-needed jobs and improving prosperity while ensuring environmental sustainability and integrity,” Dr Mayekiso said.