Green Maritime

Keeping Our Oceans Sustainable

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The event “Green Maritime - Sustainable Use of the Ocean took place at the National Research Foundation (NRF) in Pretoria on December 6th 2017.

The day started with the signing of the Declaration of Intent which sees the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announcing their intention of launching a fourth bilateral South Africa – Norway research cooperation programme. The programme will have a strong focus on the blue economy, climate change, the environment and renewable energy, to be known as SANOCEAN.

The first call for proposals to the programme is expected in March 2018 and the programme is expected to run until 2023. The SANOCEAN will be the fourth bilateral research programme between Norway and South Africa and follows the collaborative SANCOOP-programme which has been jointly operated by the National Research Foundation and the Research Council of Norway funding 19 bilateral research projects since 2013.

In her opening and welcome remarks Trine Skymoen, Ambassador of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, alluded to the oceans and coasts as the foundation of the economy which would lead to high-growth through agriculture, fisheries and international shipping. Trine Skymoen commented:

“Oceans and coasts are the foundation of much of the world’s economy. Oceans have an enormous potential for value creation and growth and we expect to see high growth in sectors such as energy, aquaculture, fisheries and fish processing. There are also opportunities in sectors such as port activities, ship building and repair as well as maritime equipment and shipping. International shipping will continue to play a key facility role in world trade and South Africa and Norway are cooperating very, very closely to look for opportunities in these areas.”

“Our oceans are facing a number of serious threats and challenges and these include over-fishing, illegal fishing, environmental toxins, plastic waste and loss of biodiversity. Climate change is impacting the oceans and may lead to sea level rise, ocean acidification and possible shifts in the distribution of important fish stocks. This in turn is threatening the livelihoods of millions of people around the world.”

The first session during the event focused on Global Ocean Science and how Norway is the foremost maritime nation in the world, which is documented in the Global Oceans Report. Norway sees the oceans as key to sustainable economic development and increased employment and thus stresses research and innovation as an important phase in the development of the ocean space industry.

The following session focused on building competencies for the future through the Cross-Border Collaborative Qualifications with Higher Education Institutions in South Africa and Norway, and The Panorama Strategy. The strategy was put in place to point out strategic countries that are important to Norway and the global economy. It ear-marked Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) with overarching priorities such as constructive interaction between higher education and research, productive connections to working life, trade and industry and constructive interaction between bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The instruments used to spearhead the Panorama Strategy include the International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research (INTPART) which funds FILAMO; a programme that aims to train the next generation of interdisciplinary marine scientists by interacting field work and laboratory experiments.

The following session emphasised dealing with marine waste where there is political framework in place to stop the pollution in the ocean, increase knowledge about the pollution and the need to gain public support in the form of regulation on the effects of marine waste in South Africa. Strong reference was given to the waste hierarchy which includes reducing, minimising, re-using, recycling and disposing of marine waste.

In conclusion, marine waste has dire consequences for the environment and water quality. In Asia 22 deaths occur per minute due to marine waste. It is currently sitting at 8 – 10 deaths in Africa. Certain measures must be put in place to ensure that Africa does not overtake Asia with regards to fatalities due to the negative effects of marine waste on the environment. Innovative measures have been put in place to quantify the situation by developing a base-line for a strategy to stop it entering the system in Africa. Strong focus is on municipalities, catchments, rivers and estuaries. In Africa, the average waste collection coverage is only 55% and more than 50% of the collected waste is disposed off to uncontrolled dump sites (19 of world’s biggest dumpsites in Africa). Illegal dumping of waste is prevalent across South African cities and towns and 90% of all waste generated goes to landfill (often dumpsites).

The final part of the event touched on the potential of Sustainable Oceans and giving reference to the Norway Government Fisheries Sector Policy, which has been approved by Parliament. The policy shall contribute and establish a sound basis for an economically viable development of the fisheries industry. A sustainable management of the living marine resources is pre-conditional and through a marked orientation and increased value adding, the fisheries sector shall contribute to good employment and living opportunities in the coastal community.

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