Update on the Ocean Economy Master Plan and Operation Phakisa Programmes, with Minister

Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment

21 February 2023
Chairperson: Mr P Modise (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video (Part 1) 

Video (Part 2)

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment presented a progress report on the Operation Phakisa Chemicals and Waste Economy. Achievements include the financial support of 94 SMMEs, the National Waste Flagship Programme being published in the gazette and that 11% of households are separating waste at source. Members highlighted separation at source, enforcement of laws, assistance to local government and the treatment of ash as priority areas.

The presentation on Operation Phakisa and the Biodiversity Economy highlighted the legislative and regulatory measures put in place around developing plant species and game as a marketable and consumable product. The production, tourism and side industries of the wildlife industry were reported on. The Committee was also briefed on the assistance to emerging entrepreneurs and the growing industry. R22 260 700 was given to communities from the Marharhabe Kingdom in Eastern Cape in recognition of their traditional knowledge, 21 SMMEs were trained as part of the capacity development plan and 16 SMMEs were supported to access new markets.

Members inquired about the upgrades and renovations of ecotourism sites that the Department assisted with.

The purpose of the Oceans Economy Master Plan (OEMP) is to advance stabilisation revival and growth of the sub-sectors within the ocean economy to ensure increased contribution to job creation, GDP, economic recovery and potential growth. By May 2023, the review of Draft OEMP and implementation plans by stakeholders will be completed. The development of the OEMP was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and dates had to be revised due to challenges with the Fisheries sub-sector. 

Meeting report

Medium-term achievements, revision of targets and timelines of the Operation Phakisa Chemicals and Waste Economy

Ms Mamogala Musekene, Deputy Director-General: Chemicals and Waste Management, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), gave the presentation.

The Operation Phakisa Chemicals and Waste Economy aims to reduce negative impact on the environment, while growing the GDP contribution and creating jobs. There are three strategic pillars:

  1. Waste Minimisation (45% of waste diverted from landfill within five years; 55% within ten years; and at least 70% within 15 years leading to zero waste going to landfills)
  2. Effective and Sustainable Waste Services (all South Africans live in clean communities with waste services that are well managed and financially sustainable)
  3. Compliance, Enforcement and Awareness (mainstreaming of waste awareness and a culture of compliance with zero tolerance of pollution, litter and illegal dumping)

20 initiatives align with these pillars, such as achieving a minimum of 50% of households separating at source by 2023. The achievements include:

  • 94 SMMEs were supported concerning recycling, recovery and ash waste treatment.
  • National Waste Flagship Programme was published in the gazette on 6 Dec 2022.
  • Packaging Guidelines have been developed and will be published in February 2023 for implementation.
  • Food Waste Guideline developed and launched with targeted interventions to minimise food loss.
  • 11% of Households are already separating waste at source by metro municipalities.
  • The recycling Enterprise Support Programme (RESP) has allocated grant funding to 32 previously disadvantaged SMMEs to establish and/or implement waste recycling and beneficiation activities in 2022/23. 1 037 direct jobs are being created and/or sustained.

(More details available in the presentation.)


Mr N Paulsen (EFF) indicated that the EFF had launched clean-up campaigns, but it is the responsibility of municipalities to implement legislation and keep the environment clean. Is the Department ensuring that the Act is implemented and that communities are served? He also expressed his concern about the low recycling of waste compared to the rest of the world. This is due to the failure of municipalities to clean up in communities. He enquired about what budget is available for recycling and recycling facilities as this will contribute to job creation.

Ms A Weber (DA) stated that with national, provincial and local government being independent spheres, how does national government enforce laws? Or, how does it ensure that local government enforces laws? Who must be approached when laws are not enforced? Under which of these spheres does acid mine draining fall and is the Department responsible for it? She also asked which sphere disposable nappies fall under, as it is becoming a huge pollution problem, especially in fresh water. Are there specific norms and standards for composting and is there a possibility for Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers to be brought into these projects? Where does the disposal of used tyres fall? Is there is a way to burn these tyres without emitting air pollution and getting some oil out of the process?

Mr N Singh (IFP) complimented the Department for the ideas, but warned that it is important to look at the implementation of these ideas. Is there some coordination between the Office of the President and the Phakisa programmes? Where does the funding come from for waste works and is there any assistance to municipalities? Tourism revenue is lost when beaches are closed due to sewerage spills. This problem is exacerbated by loadshedding. Metros are mentioned when discussing recycling and he wanted to know what plans are in place for rural areas. The Department also needs to look into the national state of disaster declared on floods and how this impacts flood-effected areas.

Ms S Mbatha (ANC) said that the main focus must be on separation at source and waste must be correctly collected into the different categories. Municipalities are failing communities in this regard. Skips are not effective as children and shorter people cannot reach and then they leave the garbage next to the skip. She emphasised that ash must be treated correctly as it is highly toxic when untreated. What processes are in place for construction waste and recycling? She also raised concerns about loadshedding and cable theft by waste pickers.

Mr M Dlamini (ANC) said there must be a conversation about waste treatment. Disposable nappies are problematic. If these products cannot be recycled, how can they be managed? He emphasised that there must be community education around the separation of waste at source and by-laws must be enforced.

The Chairperson asked the Department if Phakisa programmes are individually evaluated. If so, how frequently are they evaluated and are they integrated into the Departmental strategy?

Department response

Ms Barbara Creecy, Minister of the Department, said that the Departmental and Phakisa programmes are completely integrated and operated under the Departmental budget. She agreed that recycling needs an effective management system. She pointed out that the failure is not within the regulatory environment but the implementation of regulations and collection. The informal areas are the biggest problem as these are low collection areas with more dumping. The Department works with communities to manage landfills, but she acknowledged that more could be done around community education. The Department needs to encourage accountability of waste management in all spheres of government.

In consultation with Infrastructure South Africa, more land fill sites must be built and the programme around reducing single-use plastics must continue. Regarding nappy recycling, it is a very complicated process as granules used in nappies are not part of the current recycling stream. She agreed that better household collection is needed.

Ms Musekene indicated that both acid mine draining and waste water treatment falls within the ambit of the Department of Water and Sanitation. She also indicated that the use of ash is a risk-based approach.

Progress on Phakisa and the Biodiversity Economy

Ms Mohlago Mokgohloa, Deputy Director-General: Biodiversity and Conservation, DFFE, gave the presentation.

With regard to the bioprospecting economy, the following progress has been made:

  • R22 260 700 was shared by the industry with the beneficiary communities from the Marharhabe Kingdom in Eastern Cape in recognition of their traditional knowledge of pelargonium sidoides species.
  • 142 Bioprospecting/biotrade permits were issued to individuals and companies to-date facilitating research, development and commercial trade of products.
  • 21 SMMEs were trained as part of the capacity development plan and 16 SMMEs were supported to access new markets
  • The Draft White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity was approved by Cabinet for public comments on 8 July 2022. Public consultations ensued between July and November 2022.
  • Development of the Bioprospecting Access and Benefit Sharing (BABS) online permitting system has been completed and tested with academics and bioprospecting sectors. Training has also been provided.

With regard to the wildlife and ecotourism economy, the following progress has been made:

  • The novel Draft Game Meat Strategy for South Africa was approved by Cabinet and published for public comments on 18 July 2022. The Strategy is earmarked for implementation once approved by Cabinet during 2023.
  • Over 2000 Previously Disadvantaged Individuals (PDIs) received accredited or non-accredited training on various SMMEs development interventions.
  • R10 million was transferred in March 2022 by DFFE to SANParks for supporting Provinces, Entities and Management Authorities with game capture and translocation.
  • 76 emerging game farmers were being approved for funding for infrastructural development.
  • A five star game lodge in KZN, under the UMfolozi Big 5 Game Reserve and Babanango Game Reserve, was completed and fully operational with no less than 100 local community members employed.
  • Various upgrades and renovations to ecotourism sites, like game reserves.

(More details available in presentation.)


Mr Paulsen asked, in light of the possible origin of COVID-19, what is being done to ensure that wildlife meat is not contaminated and is safe to eat. If this initiative is meant to improve the lives of people, how many poor black people who cannot afford to buy wildlife will benefit? Also, how many tourist facilities will benefit black people?

Ms Weber asked for an exhaustive list of renovations and upgrades, with the costs of each.

Department response

The Minister indicated that there is an increased possibility of contact between humans and wildlife and therefore cross-species infection. Research and monitoring in this regard are done. Previous controversial legislation was also implemented for this reason: to ensure safety.

She confirmed that these ventures would benefit traditional and poor local communities directly and indirectly.

Ms Mokgohloa said that the list requested by Ms Weber would be forwarded to the Committee.

Update on the Ocean Economy Master Plan and Operation Phakisa

Dr Lisolomzi Fikizolo, Deputy Director-General: Oceans and Coasts, DFFE, and Ms Sue Middleton, Acting Deputy Director-General: Fisheries Management, DFFE, gave the presentation.

The purpose of the Ocean Economy Master Plan (OEMP) is to advance stabilisation, revival and growth of the sub-sectors (Marine Manufacturing and Repair; Marine Transport; Offshore Oil and Gas; Aquaculture; Fisheries) within the Oceans Economy to aid job creation, GDP, economic recovery and potential growth. Development of the OEMP began in 2019 but was seriously delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. By May 2023, the review of Draft OEMP and implementation plans by IRG, broader stakeholders and EOC and consolidation will be completed. Finalisation and submission for consideration to Cabinet will be completed by June 2023. These dates were revised due to challenges with the Fisheries sub-sector.

For Marine Manufacturing and Repair; Marine Transport; and Offshore Oil and Gas sub-sectors, stakeholder engagement sessions have been underway since October 2022. These will continue until the end of February 2023. The Aquaculture Implementation Plan has been finalised and is with the Aquaculture Delivery Unit (Fisheries Branch) for final review.

Regarding the Fisheries sub-sector, during the 2nd and 3rd quarters (22/23), an extensive integrated stakeholder engagement was undertaken to target coastal communities and small-scale fishers. The engagements have been conducted in 22 areas across the KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape. The implementation plan for the fisheries sector is at its initiation phase as the fisheries stakeholder were engaged in other key processes. Strides are being made to catch up with the other sub-sectors.

Next steps include:

  • Develop the Fisheries Implementation plan.
  • Finalize the stakeholder engagements to close glaring gaps in the respective implementation plans.
  • Consider all the stakeholder comments received through the stakeholder consultation process and incorporating those into the OEMP document and subsector implementation plans.
  • Take the matters of decision making regarding the OEMP and implementation plans to the Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) for consideration and endorsement

With regards to Operation Phakisa, since the opening of the lab in 2014, 28 new projects have been registered and incorporated. In total 45 projects are producing farmed aquatic animals. There is various legislative reform under way, such as the Aquaculture Development Bill and Inland Fisheries Policy.
(More details available in presentation.)


Mr Paulsen asked why China, the nation with the oldest aquaculture history, is not used for training. Officials are instead sent to Stirling University. He also asked if the Department is only concentrating on freshwater aquaculture and why they are not also looking at marine aquaculture.

Department response

Mr Belemane Semoli, Chief Director of Aquaculture Economic Development, said that Stirling University is the leading university in medicine. The Chinese have been experts in terms of production and the Department has a collaboration agreement in place with them in that regard.

He also indicated that due to the dwindling fish stock around the coast for numerous reasons, marine aquaculture is a priority as it strengthens the South African marine life. One example is the low natural abalone stock, therefore abalone ranching is a flourishing industry.

The Minister requested that the outstanding presentations should be seen and read and questions can be submitted to the Department.

The Chairperson requested that all questions be submitted to the committee coordinator so that the questions reach the Department and can be answered.

The meeting was adjourned.                

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