Oceans Economy Colloquium

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

20 June 2017
Chairperson: Mr P Mapulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs recently held a colloquium on growing the South African ocean economy. It looked at the current status, constraints and opportunities. Experts from various universities and organisations around the country, including the Department of Environmental Affairs, made presentations to the Committee.

The Department presented the overview of progress in operationalising the ocean economy. It reported the oceans economy commenced with operational work after the October 2014 launch. To date, government has unlocked investments amounting to R73, 323 billion in the oceans economy. Over 6 952 jobs have been created in various sectors. Major investments were in port infrastructure development and marine manufacturing, particularly in boatbuilding. The Draft Maritime Transport Policy has been approved by Cabinet and consultations are underway.

Regarding marine protection services and ocean governance, challenges were around uncertainty of roles and responsibilities, lack of adequate skills, the need to improve compliance and monitoring, limited human and financial resources, coordination of departments and enforcement, and lack of institutional framework. In terms of integrated framework and governance, the Oceans Economy Secretariat has been established to ensure support to implement the oceans economy. The National Framework for Marine Spatial Planning has been approved by the Minister and was gazetted on May 2017. In terms of ocean protection, there is an Enhanced and Coordinated Enforcement Programme. Joint operations were undertaken in KwaZulu-Natal during June 2017. The Integrated Vessel Tracking is exceeding expectations and is already assisting in some activities of the Enhanced and Coordinated Enforcement Programme.

The Department further briefed the Committee about South Africa’s involvement in Antarctica and possible opportunities. SA does not have squabbles in marine spatial planning because she is isolated and does not share her space with anyone. In the Benguela current, the country works with Angola and Namibia. South Africa’s involvement in the Antarctica included the use of meteorological capabilities to predict weather for the agriculture sector; military and commercial aviation safe operations in air routes; geological research; space weather; and oceanography.

There is no comprehensive National Antarctic Strategy and National Research Strategy to guide and direct Antarctic Research efforts. The current scientific outputs are not on par with other Treaty Countries. There is a lack of synergy because role players have different objectives. In terms of possible opportunities, the gateway status of Cape Town needs to be enhanced because it is already contributing to the economy of the region. There is a need to understand the Antarctica’s potential to provide food, economic and energy security influencing a number of countries to increase their investments in the Antarctica.

The Petroleum Agency of South Africa spoke about the status of South Africa’s application to extend the size of her continental shelf. The reason for the extension of the continental shelf is because SA’s oceans were stripped of fish by countries who could afford big ship vessels and they decided to protect what was given to them by nature. The continental shelf is geological in nature. The extended continental shelf is supported by geology. One of the constraints cited was that for the extended continental shelf they could not go beyond the 350 nautical miles. On an extended continental shelf, you are entitled to resources on the sea floor or beyond the sea floor.

From the recommendations issued, the Petroleum Agency of South Africa indicated it is clear the Commission overturned a whole series of recommendations on the Outer limit of the continental shelf (OLCS) agreed to and approved by the Sub-Commission without providing any analysis whatsoever. These recommendations put the submission back to the most conservative position estimated during the scoping study in preparation of the submission. The only way to respond to this is by re-submission, but this would take time and effort and would be delayed until the needed data around the saddle region and other additional supporting data is acquired.

Researchers from the various universities and organisations centred their presentations around ocean economy and governance overview; current facts and futures of SA’s ocean economy; overview of coastal and marine pollution; Marine Spatial Planning; and status of coastal and marine pollution, with a focus on plastics.

Members asked if the Petroleum Agency of SA had a long-term strategy to be self-sufficient or for investment, because they need to look at future risks in case the partnership between SA and France collapses; wanted to know if the Agency had plans in place to solve or avoid accidents in our oceans which are from gas and oil exploration; and enquired if the granting of licences for exploration is public knowledge.

To the Department, Members wanted to find out if the Department is not raising people’s expectations when it says 1 million jobs would be created through the oceans economy, and asked how the local communities are going to benefit from the ocean economy; asked for clarity on the huge controversy around the Algoa Bay yellow tail fishing; wanted to know why South Africa is not claiming in the Antarctica and wanted to find out what the implications are; and wanted to establish who apportions responsibilities to countries involved in the Indian Ocean Expedition or if it is SA that is imposing these responsibilities.

From the researchers, they wanted to know what the country is doing right and wrong in terms of ocean economy governance; what were their opinions are on the banning completely of plastic; wanted to establish if there were a better way of managing the relationship between the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Environment Affairs, because the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is responsible for Fisheries while regulations for Fisheries are within the Department of Environmental Affairs; and remarked that they had not heard anything mentioned about the coast care programme.

Meeting report

Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Presentation
Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director-General: DEA, presented to the Committee the overview of progress in operationalising the ocean economy. In 2010, they presented to Cabinet the oceans policy for DEA to establish an oceans economy regulations. Then a question was asked about the contribution of the ocean to the GDP. A study was commissioned and done by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). South Africa was found to have a vast ocean space with huge untapped potential which could address challenges around poverty, inequality, and unemployment. The current contribution of the ocean to the GDP is R54 billion. The ocean has the potential to increase the GDP contribution to between R129 and R177 billion with over 1 million jobs being created by 2033.

The oceans economy commenced with operational work after the October 2014 launch. To date, government has unlocked investments amounting to R73, 323 billion in the oceans economy. Over 6 952 jobs have been created in various sectors. Major investments had been in port infrastructure development and marine manufacturing, particularly in boatbuilding. The Draft Maritime Transport Policy has been approved by Cabinet and consultations are underway.

The DEA and Departments of Energy and Public Enterprises have entered into a co-funding agreement to fund the Strategic Environmental Assessment for the phased gas pipeline network. The South African Marine Research and Exploration Forum is established jointly with the industry. The Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) has been transferred to the Department of Mineral Resources in order to establish an end-to-end institutional structure one-stop shop. The Mineral Petroleum Resources Development Bill is before Parliament and would increase investor confidence in the oil and gas sector.

On aquaculture, challenges were around insufficient primary infrastructure, lack of access to inputs, limited access to land and sea, small pool of skills and knowledge, and limited accessibility to markets. However, the aquaculture focus area has exceeded expectations. There are 36 aquaculture projects. Ten projects are in production phase with a private sector investment of R338 million and government investment of R106 million. 521 jobs have been realised and committed. The projected increase in production related to investment is 2901 tons – an increase of 175 tons in the first year of Operation Phakisa.

The Aquaculture Bill is currently before the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). The Strategic Environmental Assessment for Aquaculture is in its second phase with the first level screening being analysed. The Aquaculture Interdepartmental Authorisations Committee is operational and is working towards reducing timeframes for authorisations from 830 days to 240/360 days.

Regarding marine protection services and ocean governance, challenges were around uncertainty of roles and responsibilities, lack of adequate skills, the need to improve compliance and monitoring, limited human and financial resources, coordination of departments and enforcement, and lack of institutional framework. In terms of integrated framework and governance, the Oceans Economy Secretariat has been established to ensure support to implement the oceans economy. The National Framework for Marine Spatial Planning has been approved by the Minister and was gazetted on May 2017. In terms of ocean protection, there is an Enhanced and Coordinated Enforcement Programme. Joint operations were undertaken in KwaZulu-Natal during June 2017. The Integrated Vessel Tracking is exceeding expectations and is already assisting in some activities of the Enhanced and Coordinated Enforcement Programme.

Concerning the development of small harbours, Ms Ngcaba pointed out that challenges they are faced with are around infrastructure that is in disrepair, lack of cohesive legislative and regulatory framework, lack of investment, and lack of maintenance, safety and security measures. The Department of Public Works has undertaken an extensive Pre-Lab process of consulting with all coastal provinces and municipalities. A total of 70 coastal projects have been identified across the four coastal provinces with the number continuously increasing as new projects are identified. Initial development projects have been identified in all relevant municipalities and efforts are underway to match them to investors.

Pertaining to coastal and marine tourism, there is inconsistency in municipal bylaws; lack of inter-governmental coordination; inadequate tourism services; and lack of tourism infrastructure. Intervention has been done on events and routes; regulations and permitting; data collection and research; skills development; and maritime tourism. The Coastal and Marine Tourism Lab has been completed. The implementation plans have been presented and supported by the economic cluster to proceed to Cabinet. The DEA has engaged and agreed with the Departments of Arts and Culture, Water and Sanitation, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on issues related to integration like cultural heritage, aquaculture, and inland water ways.

Ms Ngcaba further stated that a comprehensive skills-needs audit for the aquaculture sector has commenced. There are 12 placements for aquaculture at DAFF for 2017. 462 apprenticeships have been recorded for marine manufacturing. 581 artisans have been trained and 885 people were trained on different skills programme.

Ms Ngcaba concluded, saying the global and local economic climate has impacted on private sector investments. The lack of funding and partnerships in the private sector has impacted further on new investments. There is a lack of placement opportunities for experiential learning after training, especially on seafarer and artisanal training. Policy and legislative instruments need to be finalised to attract investment.

South Africa’s Perspective on the Antarctica
Dr Monde Mayekiso, Deputy Director-General for Oceans and Coasts: DEA, briefed the Committee about South Africa’s involvement in the Antarctica and possible opportunities. SA does not have squabbles in marine spatial planning because she is isolated and does not share her space with anyone. In the Benguela current, the country works with Angola and Namibia.

South Africa’s involvement in the Antarctica dates back to the earliest voyages of discovery due to the then Cape of Good Hope’s position as a stop-over for explorers, whalers, and sealers. South Africa undertook its first expedition to Antarctic in January 1960. Her involvement included the use of meteorological capabilities to predict weather for the agriculture sector; military and commercial aviation safe operations in air routes; geological research; space weather; and oceanography.

The Antarctica Treaty is made up of 24 countries from Europe, 2 states from North America, 8 countries from South America, 9 countries from Asia (excluding Australia and New Zealand), and 1 from Africa (South Africa). There are regional collaborations between Treaty Member countries in South America and Asia. The international interest in Antarctica is currently rising. Non-original Antarctic Treaty countries like China, South Korea, and India have increased their bases.

Antarctic Treaty countries were primarily concerned with military security and overlooked resource potential. Then during the 21st Century there was a need for energy security and growing competition for finite resources. Countries were looking for other reliable energy resources. Australia remains a greater influence in the Antarctica Treaty System since 1961. She has the capacity to undertake and support relevant science. The role of Tasmania is a gateway to the Antarctic. Her 20 year Antarctic Strategic plan was approved in 2014.

India joined in 1983. Her research priority is on the impact, particularly the Indian Ocean sector of Southern Ocean, on Indian climate and severe weather events. She completed and commissioned the 2nd Antarctic Station and building a new research ship. Brazil registered in 1961. The country is internationally recognised for high scientific performance in Antarctica and Southern Ocean.

With regard to the current SA environment, Dr Mayekiso indicated there is no comprehensive National Antarctic Strategy and National Research Strategy to guide and direct Antarctic Research efforts. The current scientific outputs are not on par with other Treaty Countries. There is a lack of synergy because role players have different objectives.

In terms of possible opportunities, the gateway status of Cape Town needs to be enhanced because it is already contributing to the economy of the region. There is a need to understand Antarctica’s potential to provide food, economic and energy security influencing a number of countries to increase their investments in the Antarctica. South Africa is in close proximity to the Antarctica and could capitalise on this proximity. South Africa needs to enhance her presence by attracting other like- minded counterparts in Africa. 70% of the world’s fresh water, mineral rich including all the minerals of the Southern African region are represented in the Antarctica. Because Antarctica is a “resource rich” continent, that serves as a motivation for some countries to join the Treaty.

SA is involved in the 2nd Indian Ocean Expedition. The country would participate with other neighbouring countries in the Indian Ocean. SA and other countries do not have capacity for research, but they would create regional centres in Kenya, Angola, Mauritius, and other countries and these centres are going to have their own specialised roles.

Dr Mayekiso further reported that South Africa has an interest in the ASO region. Through the SAASOS (Southern African Antarctic and Southern Oceans Strategy) development process, South Africa’s strategic interests were determined to be:

  • Secure the Prince Edward Island sovereignty and the economic opportunities around the PEI
  • Secure peace and security
  • Promote the protection and conservation of the pristine and wilderness nature of the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean (ASO) region
  • Pursue reasonable economic benefits permissible within the Antarctic Treaty System
  • Leverage the geographic proximity to the Southern Oceans and Antarctic region

Finally, he stated the Southern African Antarctic and Southern Oceans Strategy is underpinned by 5 cross-cutting interventions, namely:

  • Financial resources and investments are mobilized for the implementation of SAASOS
  • Institutional capacity, effective intergovernmental coordination and the regulatory framework for the implementation of SAASOS are enhanced
  • Build and promote an ASO brand
  • Strengthen good governance to ensure accountability in the roll-out of SAASOS
  • Human resource and skills are developed and capacitated to support the ASO activities and SAASOS actions.

Status of South Africa’s application to extend the size of its continental shelf
Ms Nontsikelelo van Averbeke, General Manager for Petroleum Resources Management: PASA, informed the Committee that the reason for the extension of the continental shelf is that SA’s oceans were stripped of fish by countries who could afford big ship vessels and they decided to protect what was given to them by nature. The continental shelf is geological in nature. The extended continental shelf is supported by geology. One of the constraints cited was that for the extended continental shelf they could not go beyond the 350 nautical miles. On an extended continental shelf, you are entitled to resources on the sea floor or beyond the sea floor.

Then SA and France put a joint claim because South Africa does not have a vessel that could withstand the harsh weather conditions in the west. This happened in 2009. In 2014, SA submitted its defence for its claimant. In 2016, an agreement was reached with the Sub-Commission which has spent 2 years with SA on these projects of claims. In 2017, the Sub-Commission approached PASA to be its ambassador.

In the Indian Ocean side or oceanic ridges, they had to show the morphological and geological continuities. The Sub-Commission agreed there is morphological continuity but no geological continuity. Later, PASA proved there are both continuities, morphologically and geologically. Other commissions believed there are no existing continuities. So, it was suggested SA should do some geo-spatial study to prove there are continuities morphologically and geologically.

The main Commission saw the data or results for only two weeks and made no recommendations on what needs to be done, yet SA has worked with a group of scientists for two years on this project. South Africa has written to the main Commission to review its Rules of Procedure (Article 77) so that she could collect data and re-submit. And for SA to do this data collection, she would require R200m. South Africa is claiming the area which has a thickening crust.

Now there is a stalemate between SA and the main Commission regarding the discovery ridge in Marion Island. South Africa does not want to re-submit because of financial constraints and has lost two senior scientists. So, if money is not found, PASA is going to lose human resources. China has shown interest in the discovery ridge that SA wants, but if there is no one to take it, the area would be under the International Seabed Authority (ISA) which is UN-controlled.

Ms van Averbeke maintained that what needs to be clear is that during the process of the technical and scientific examination of the submission, where the delegation was able to influence the Sub-Commission, they were successful.

From the recommendations issued, she indicated it is clear that the Commission overturned a whole series of recommendations on the OLCS agreed to and approved by the Sub-Commission without providing any analysis whatsoever. These recommendations put the submission back to the most conservative position estimated during the scoping study in preparation of the submission. The only way to respond to this is by making a re-submission but this would take time and effort and would be delayed until the needed data around the saddle region and other additional supporting data is acquired.

More importantly, there is no point in preparing a revised submission if the behaviour of the main Commission is to assume the role of “Protector of the Oceans”, a view that is based on ideological views of individuals within the Commission. The problem lies within the main Commission and is not one of Coastal States. Pressure needs to be exerted on the Commission to carry out their mandate as required by the Convention.

In the immediate term, South Africa should prepare a response from a procedural perspective. This is not a technical matter, but rather political and should be led by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) with inputs from the technical team, where they are needed. How South Africa proceeds would need to be discussed by the technical and diplomatic teams. South Africa should also engage with and initiate interaction with other affected State parties (Norway, Iceland, Cooke Islands, Solomon Islands and others).

Ms van Averbeke also pointed out they have been advised that whilst the submission that examined the Bouvet Island of Norway agreed to the establishment of the OLCS in that region, the Commission overturned this and made no recommendations whatsoever. This has a significant bearing on how they proceed with the Joint Island partial submission.

Ocean Economy and governance overview Presentation
Professor Ken Findlay, Research Chairperson for Oceans Economy: Cape Provincial University of Technology (CPUT), stated that humans derive numerous “market” and “non-market” benefits from ocean systems through Oceans Economies which involve ecosystem and environmental services. There is global increase in Ocean Economies as nations or regions turn to new opportunities to foster economic growth and food and energy security. The terminology, definition, classification standard and scope of the ocean economy differ by country. The Blue Economy advocates innovative solutions to sustainable development, including the fostering of entrepreneurship to create sustainability. This concept is not specific to oceans. For some, Blue Economy means the use of the sea and its resources for sustainable economic development. For others, it simply refers to any economic activity in the maritime sector, whether sustainable or not.

Oceans or Blue Economy needs to be contextualised in terms of African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS); the AU 2063 Agenda; “Africa's Blue Economy: A policy handbook” (UNECA, 2016); SDG 14 and other SDGs; Nairobi Convention 8th COP meeting; the Two IORA Blue Economy Declarations (Mauritius 2015 and Jakarta 2017); Sustainable use; Ecosystem approach; Science based; Socio-economic benefit; Informed decision making; equitable growth; research; governance; capacity building; sound environmental management; management and conservation;  equity; resource efficiency, social inclusion; regional cooperation; and integrated ecosystem services. Regardless of the “Blue” or “Oceans” Economy terminology, there is consensus that expansion of oceans economies requires science-based ecosystem approaches to governance.

Ecological governance is “a process of informed decision-making that enables trade-offs between competing resource users so as to balance environmental protection with beneficial use in such a way as to mitigate conflict, enhance equity, ensure sustainability and allow accountability”. Informed decision-making requires knowledge bases and capacity, including decision support tools. Trade-offs require valuation and value is dependent on value systems – no “one-size fits all” framework for governance. The role of science, research, technology and innovation in the development of knowledge and capacity is important.

He concluded by saying Operation Phakisa needs to fast-track delivery of the NDP 2030: eradication of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Governance needs to optimise human benefits and well-being without compromising Ocean Health. The roles of society, science and government in the Operation Phakisa Ocean Governance Framework is very important.

Valuing SA’s Ocean Economy: current facts and futures
Mr John Duncan, Senior Manager for Marines: WWF-SA, informed Members that oceans contain over 96% of the planet’s water but they too are fragile. Oceans produce 70%-80% of the planet’s oxygen.

Oceans absorb more than half of all man-made carbon dioxide and regulate the climate. Seafood makes up 17% of global protein intake. A third of the oil and gas we use comes from offshore sources. 90% of world trade is carried by sea. 10-12% of global livelihoods are associated with fisheries and aquaculture.

The ocean provides wide-ranging value, from food and tourism to coastal protection and much more. The ocean’s asset value would dwarf the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds. The ocean is valued at more than US $24 trillion; however, its actual value is likely to be much higher because many key ecosystem services are difficult to quantify.

South African fisheries are economically and culturally important for our livelihoods, culture and recreation. They play a critical role in coastal communities’ food security. Tourism is the biggest contributor to ocean economy. Coastal tourism contributes R26bn to the GDP while eco-tourism contributes R2bn. 22% of coastal developments are threatened by sea level rise. Direct coastal resources contribute 35% of annual GDP. Only 0.5% of our ocean is currently protected.

Our ocean ecosystems are reaching their ecological capacity. “Business as Usual” is unlikely to generate significantly greater economic returns. We need to develop innovative resource-efficient pathways towards sustainable development and are well-placed to do so.

Finally, he said if we want a future in which our country’s needs are met, despite growing water scarcity and increasing climate variability, we need to focus on managing our fisheries for recovery and resilience, recognising that fish are part of a broader ecosystem and establish recovery targets; developing marine spatial planning frameworks which minimise conflicts and enable a holistic management approach and finalise effective MSP Act; and secure at least 20% of our oceans to protect critical biodiversity and ensure ecosystem functioning. Any discussion of growing our ocean economy needs to recognise that healthy ecosystems underpin the ocean economy. 

Overview of coastal and marine pollution in SA’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

Dr Brent Newman, Principal Scientist: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), stated that about 80-100% of pollution in coastal and marine environment is from land-based sources. All ports must be dredged for safe vessel navigation and development. Anti-fouling coatings – estimated 42 tons of (antifouling chemicals) copper and 850 kg of Irgarol was leached into Dutch coastal waters in 2007 as a result of vessel traffic. A large number of vessels call at or pass SA annually.

Estuarine and marine pollution hotspots have focused on cities. In KwaZulu-Natal, estuaries over a large part of the province are in a poor state. Large volumes of waste water is discharged directly or indirectly to sea each day. There are 92 known estuarine and marine invasive species in South Africa.

Bacterial and virus pollution affects tourism and cultural practices. Main sources are contaminated river and stormwater entering sea. The estimated Blue Flag value to Margate was R17-25 million in 2008. Wastewater is a major factor influencing state of estuaries, including wastewater from informal settlements. Estuaries and sea are connected and they affect each other. Estuaries are important nursery areas for fish, including those targeted by subsistence, recreational and commercial fisheries.  

Aquaculture requires clean water. Strict controls on seafood importation into many countries based on chemicals and bacteria in and on flesh. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries currently evaluates status of seafood exports. Aquaculture facilities are sources of pollutants themselves.

With regard to offshore oil and gas exploration, there is little information available, but this is in its infancy in SA. We have virtually no understanding on contaminants and pollution in SA’s greater EEZ – most studies restricted to a few kilometres at most from the shoreline.

In terms of most critical issues requiring attention, wastewater discharge on estuarine ecosystems require urgent attention. This requires a coordinated approach between the Department of Water and Sanitation, DEA and municipalities in terms of wastewater. There is a need to finalise and implement Estuarine Management Plans. Green city and port planning need to reduce input of contaminants via wastewater and stormwater. Research needs to be funded because we can only understand pollution impacts through measurement.

Status of coastal and marine pollution, with a focus on plastics

Professor Peter Ryan, FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology: UCT, said a healthy ocean economy requires healthy oceans. Plastics are synthetic polymers; mass produced since the 1950s, with the amount produced annually increasing steadily since then. Currently, 300 million tons of plastics are produced per year. Plastics are versatile, light-weight, have a long lifespan and are relatively cheap. They are often used in one-use applications, disperse well, persistent, and can carry toxins.

Most plastics in the ocean come from land-based sources. South Africa is rated as 11th worst marine plastics polluter globally, largely due to poor waste management. Only 62% of South Africans have access to regular waste removal. This pattern occurs despite greater cleaning effort in urban areas. Beach cleaning mainly removes large litter items – no trend in long-term data in bags and bottles, but exponential increase in small items. The combination of good dispersal ability and long lifespan result in waste plastics occurring everywhere, especially in the sea (ultimate sink for pollutants)

Plastic pollution has ecological impacts. It affects a wide range of marine organisms. It transfers biota that grows on drifting debris. Sheet plastics block gas exchange in soft sediments. It gets ingested and blocks the digestive tract and reduce food intake through false satiation. It is a source of toxic compounds. The economic impact of plastic pollution is that it causes damage to ships and blocks water intakes. Dirty beaches reduce tourism. In 2000, it was reported that clean beaches are worth R10 million per year to the Cape Peninsula. We spend plus minus R100 million on cleaning beaches.

The major issue is contamination of food chains through ingestion of plastics. Toxic compounds include:

  • chemicals added during manufacture (BPA, TBBPA, PBDE, phthalates)
  • compounds that adhere to plastics at sea (PCBs, DDT, DDE)

Marine protein is crucial for food security. Cleaning treats the symptoms and there is a need to tackle the causes. We need to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink. We need to improve solid waste management, do enforcement to reduce littering, and provide incentive to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

The National Waste Management Strategy has 8 key goals:

  • Promote waste minimisation, re-use, recycling and recovery
  • Ensure the effective and efficient delivery of waste services
  • Grow the contribution of the waste sector to the green economy
  • Ensure awareness of waste impacts on health and the environment
  • Achieve integrated waste management planning
  • Sound budgeting and financial management for waste services
  • Provide measures to remediate contaminated land
  • Establish effective compliance and enforce the Waste Act

The primary reason that recycling is not cleaning communities is that the littering material has no commercial value to drive collection for recycling. Fiscal incentives work because charging for carrier bags has reduced their abundance. But carriers comprise only 3% of flexible packaging. There is a need a broader solution. The deposit system works, but not economically efficient because it is costly to manage, and creates storage issues; and need a market for recycled material.

Adding value reduces environmental leakage and creates income opportunities. Recycling PET bottles created 62,000 employment opportunities in 2016; R360 million was paid to collectors; and 90 750 tonnes were recycled and this saved 562 650 m3 of landfill.

Most litter is one-use plastic packaging from land-based sources. Litter load is outstripping population growth. Packaging design often ignores litter risk; and there is a need to rethink packaging to promote 3Rs; and we need to include environmental costs of packaging to fund collection/recycling.

Actions that are needed include:

  • Implement the National Waste Management Strategy
  • Use the Waste Act to force industry to embed the costs of post-consumer waste collection
  • Use these funds to subsidise recycling initiatives
  • Levies must be ring-fenced to promote recycling
  • Ban plastics in litter-prone applications

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Presentation
Professor Mandy Lombard, MSP Researcher: NMMU, informed the Committee that the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) provides the underlying framework for environmental law. In 1996, Section 24 of the Constitution enshrined basic environmental rights. A strong theme in the current legal order is that of equitable access to resources.

In 2014, the DEA published the NEMO white paper, which could have evolved into an over-arching Oceans Act, and then MSP legislation could have been nested underneath it, following sound ecosystem-based principles. But then Operation Phakisa came along a few months later (also in 2014) and the need for MSP legislation was deemed urgent so cabinet instructed the DEA to prepare a draft MSP Bill (which would not benefit from an over-arching Oceans Act to guide it).

At the Phakisa labs, it was also deemed urgent to declare our new marine protected areas (which had been developed by SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute) and other colleagues) but these MPAs have still not been declared, whereas the MSP Bill has made it to Parliament.

The DEA is mandated to care for the environment, but she asked how it would balance economic objectives with environmental concerns, if the MSP Bill sits within it. If environmental health collapses, so does everything else. For example, the failure to clear alien vegetation has resulted in unmanageable fires in the Garden Route. The cost of these fires more than likely exceeds the costs of alien clearing which has other benefits, such as water delivery, jobs, and value-added products.

There are different views on sustainability in MSP. One view describes ecosystem-based MSP, and the anticipated consequences of ecosystem collapse, based on ‘hard sustainability’. This view sees ecosystem conservation as the foundation for MSP, and that irreversible collapses in marine ecosystems would eventually lead to collapses in the economic sectors that depend on such marine ecosystems. The other view describes integrated-use MSP, based on ‘soft sustainability’, in which economic growth is seen as the foundation of MSP, and the collapse of the ‘environmental pillar’ does not necessarily lead to the collapse of related socio-economic structures.

In real life, stakeholders are not equal. Less powerful stakeholders are interested in near-shore activities, while more powerful stakeholders are interested in off-shore activities. For example, 0.5% of the Exclusive Economic Zone is under protection, whereas about 98% is under petroleum exploration leases. With the current executive powers in the MSP Bill, it is likely that the rich would get richer, and the poor would not benefit. We need checkpoints in the Bill. One, we need to explicitly adopt ecosystem-based MSP. Two, we need a stronger voice for civil society. Here is a proposed stakeholder forum and its establishment alongside formal MSP institutional structures proposed by the MSP Bill of March 2017. Three, marine area plans should have to go back to Parliament for review before they are implemented, and the public should be given a comment period as per the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Act. In addition, if comments from civil society are ignored (as has been the case with previous DEA “stakeholder” processes), there must be the mechanism for an appeal process. Four, we need to declare our MPAs, which would take our MPA estate from 0.5 to 5%, and then we need to start work on declaring the next 5% to bring the total to 10%. The MPA Expansion strategy actually calls for 20%.

In conclusion, she invited the DEA to consult with NMMU as South African academics, because they have a lot of experience with MSP. Thus far, consultations have been conducted mainly with international partners, but when they cite international “best-practice” to DEA, they are told that they should not look to the northern hemisphere countries because they have a ”different” situation. This is mixed messaging, and serves to deepen their concerns that civil society is being excluded from the MSP process.

Discussion

PASA Presentation
Mr P Mabilo (ANC), on continental shift, asked if PASA has a long-term strategy to be self-sufficient or for investment because they need to look at future risks in case the partnership between SA and France collapses.

Ms van Averbeke indicated they are not dependent on France. The relationship they have with France is that of convenience. They do not have a vessel that could do seismic surveys in the concerned areas. They use a French vessel that always goes there – a convenient vessel. This vessel saves money and resources. But this does not mean they could not have their own vessel. There are plans to build a vessel that could go there for the Operation Phakisa project, but the problem is money.

Ms H Nyambi (ANC) wanted to know if PASA has got plans in place to solve or avoid accidents in our oceans which are from gas and oil exploration.

Ms van Averbeke responded that preventative measures are put in place. When a person applies for a licence, there are things that are discussed with this person to ensure there are no oil or gas leakages. The DEA and PASA also make sure that whatever is done does not put the environment and people in danger.

Mr R Purdon (DA) enquired if the granting of licences for exploration is public knowledge, and if so, why that is not mentioned in PASA’s website.

Ms van Averbeke explained she is not aware the information is not on the website and that it has been suspended because the website is part of her portfolio, but a follow-up would be done. Licences are public knowledge even while they are still under application. Everything is public knowledge and the website has all the details of areas taken.

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) wanted to know if the country is able to enforce authority on the EEZs and how far can it enforce its authority over other jurisdictions it wants to lay claim on. He further asked what PASA is doing to fill the void left by skilled senior citizens who have left some of the projects.

Ms van Averbeke, concerning the EEZs, stated that the enforcement of authority on the EEZs is not the only responsibility of PASA. PASA enforces authority on oil and gas exploration. The DEA and SA Maritime Safety Authority also have got a role to play. It is a combined effort. PASA does not have the resources to claim. Pertaining to skills, she admitted senior citizens have skills and experience. But now they have people with skills, and the question is what would happen if these senior citizens leave the projects. All the information has been put into a system called the Knowledge Management System, including the defence information so that even the young scientists could have access to the information and see how things are done.

DEA Presentation
Mr Mabilo wanted to know why in the report only eight ports are mentioned whereas there are nine ports in the country. He asked if that were a deliberate omission or if the other unmentioned port is not classified as a port. He asked why the Boegoebaai area is not identified as a port, because the UN declared it as a heritage site.

The Director-General elaborated there are initiatives that are behind schedule or not effectively implemented because of unending factors. Ports are run by Transnet. Operation Phakisa pointed out that a national strategy on ports was needed to regulate them. The strategy would be implemented by Transnet. Because the ports belong to Transnet, you sometimes discover the running and maintenance is left with municipalities in some cases. Transnet has its own way of using the ports, from a financial point of view. There is no confirmed investor for Port Nolloth and Boegoebaai. Saldanha Bay was one port that has had its infrastructure developed. It was important to look at the distance between the place or port and the airports. Sometimes pelagic fishes have to be transported quickly from the sea to the airport, but it is a challenge if the port is far away from the airport.

Ms Nyambi asked if the DEA was not raising people’s expectations when it says 1 million jobs would be created through the oceans economy, and how the local communities are going to benefit from the ocean economy.

The Director-General explained that four sectors have been prioritised in the ocean economy. The coastal communities are major beneficiaries and there are plans in place to enable these communities to participate in aquaculture. Hamburg in Peddie is one good example.

Mr Purdon asked for clarity on the huge controversy around the Algoa Bay yellow tail fishing.

The Director-General indicated there is a plan to have the aquaculture programme in Algoa. The main priority is the kob farming. The yellowtail was a sub-programme. There were objections to 3 sites by the authorities. The remaining two are potential sites and there is confirmation on that.

Mr Makhubele asked the DEA to comment on the issue of skills development in tertiary institutions and that PASA has stated it is losing highly qualified scientists because of age and some are going to other projects.

The Director-General explained the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has given support to provide skills in the sector. The NMMU and CPUT are involved in the agreements signed with the DEA regarding skills development. There is an effort in investing in these programmes.

Mr Mabilo wanted to know why the DEA is saying it is expensive and unaffordable to get into partnership with other countries but when it comes to mitigation it has plans. He also wanted to know why South Africa is not claiming in the Antarctica and wanted to find out what the implications are.

Dr Mayekiso stated that when it comes to partnerships, they get better with various nations to ensure those countries understand what SA wants to achieve. The DEA has partnerships with Brazil and the European Union on climate issues. They have a partnership with Norway and Germany. In the Indian Ocean Expedition, they are partnering with Kenya and other African states. On why SA is not claiming, there is an area called SA territory which was claimed by Norway. He did not know why no claim was lodged. As long as the Antarctic Treaty exists, there is no chance you could lay a claim. It would be difficult at this stage for claims to be entertained.

Mr Makhubele, with regard to regional centres in the 2nd Indian Ocean Expedition, wanted to establish who apportions responsibilities to these countries or if it is SA that is imposing these responsibilities.

Dr Mayekiso explained that countries involved offered themselves on the basis of their strengths. For example, Mauritius is good in boat sensing; Tanzania wants to do biodiversity; and SA wants to do operational oceanography and has a vessel.

Professors Lombard, Ryan and Findlay, and Mr Duncan’s Presentations
The Chairperson wanted to know if the MPA Bill has been shared with the DEA seeing that Prof Lombard has done consultative work on the White Paper.

Prof Lombard said the comments from the stakeholders went to the DEA. It has received the comments and is busy processing them.

Mr Makhubele asked Prof Lombard to comment on the slow implementation of the MPAs.

Prof Lombard said she has provided four alternatives that have been included in the Bill. Stakeholder engagement at communities along the coastline needs to happen in order to inform and empower them. Stakeholders should be involved from the early stages of policy-making. Parliament also needs to review the Bill.

The Director-General added that SANBI and WWFSA participated in the discussions. The DEA makes use of Operation Phakisa to reach its target of 5%.

Mr Makhubele said he had not heard anything mentioned about the coast care programme.

The Director-General said the coast care programme belongs to the DEA but it has not reported to the Committee about it.

Mr Xolani Dlamini, Director for PMU: Tourism Department, added that his department is implementing the Blue Flag Programme. 200 youth were trained in beach and water safety. 200 more would be added. R240 million would be added to ensure clean beaches in order to collect more revenue and contribute to the GDP.

Ms J Edwards (DA) wanted to know Prof Ryan’s opinion on the banning completely of plastic (bags, plastic knives and forks, plastic plates, etc). Would that make a significant difference and impact in SA.

Prof Ryan replied it is important to look at alternatives that are available. The banning of plastic completely is an emotional issue. Banning is not the necessary solution. People need to come up with better solutions on re-usable items. South Africa has the opportunity to come up with those alternatives. On the issue of clearing the coast, people should tackle the causes and not focus on the symptoms.

The Director-General agreed with Prof Ryan on plastic pollution. She stated when regulations were passed by the ex-Minister, the intention was to make the industry to start thinking of producing recyclable plastic material.

Ms Nyambi asked Prof Findlay to explain what the country is doing right and wrong in terms of ocean economy governance; and wanted to know if Agenda 2063 of AU would survive without the leadership of people like Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Prof Findlay elaborated that in terms of governance, there is scope for deliberation with the higher education sector and NGOs to provide support in fresh water quality monitoring, monitoring on consumption of species, etc. through the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and contribute as partners. He said Agenda 2063’s survival is out of his political portfolio.

Mr Makhubele commented it is important for presenters to always make time to come to Parliament because their information would help in policy formulation. Parliament also needs to find a way to empower poor people with regard to information so that when they attend public hearings, they have an opportunity to make informed inputs. He wanted to establish if there was a better way of managing the relationship between DAFF and DEA because DAFF is responsible for Fisheries while regulations for Fisheries are within the DEA.

Mr Duncan stated there is a significant challenge. The split between these two departments was done and there is nothing that could be done as both departments have different mandates. The management of eco-systems lies with the DEA. Fisheries was not involved in Phakisa, maybe because it was seen as not going to bring in any results.

The Director-General added the DEA would have loved to keep Fisheries under its wing, but there were changes implemented which were beyond their control. It was an executive decision. The DEA still has got an opportunity to manage devastating conflicts in the ocean space.

Dr Alan Boyd, DEA, remarked that Operation Phakisa wants to improve the economy and protect the environment at the same time. For conservation, they achieved 1% of the targets, but Phakisa wants to achieve 5% of targets, especially in areas of gas and oil. In agriculture, they have got a successful aquaculture programme so far. Operation Phakisa wants to better these programmes and create jobs in the harbours and protect the environment around the harbours. Operation Phakisa wants to balance things. That is why the programme partners with what the stakeholders want to achieve.

The Director-General commented the DEA has listened to different perspectives. She observed that the MSP did not hijack the NEMO process because it was widely consulted. All the legislation pieces that passed Parliament from 1996 up to now are being reviewed to see under- and over-regulation and look at gaps in the policies. The DEA presented its plan to Cabinet on ocean economy. This was followed by a lot of discussion and plans. There are no short-cuts to public engagement undertaken by the DEA and it continues to work closely with its provincial departments.

The Chairperson said a lot still needs to be done. There should be continuous interaction every six months and get integrated reports so that things do not get off the radar because the Committee still needs to process the Marine Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

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