Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma on Saturday announced plans to explore parts of the ocean to find economic potential that could contribute to the country's gross domestic product.
“Four priority sectors have been selected as new growth areas in the ocean economy, with the objective of growing them and deriving value for the country,” he said in Durban on Saturday at the launch of 'Operation Pakisa'.
“These are marine transport and manufacturing activities, such as coastal shipping, trans-shipment, boat building, repair and refurbishment; offshore oil and gas exploration; aquaculture; and marine protection services and ocean governance.”
Aquaculture is the farming of fish, crustaceans and aquatic plants.
It involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions.
Zuma said the vast ocean space remained relatively unexplored.
“We chose the ocean economy with good reason. South Africa is uniquely bordered by the ocean on three sides - east, south and west.
“With the inclusion of Prince Edward and Marion Islands in the southern ocean, the coastline is approximately 3924km long.”
Zuma said it would explore maritime transport and manufacturing to secure the benefits of the growing volumes of cargo handling, sea and coastal shipping and support transport activities such as storage and warehousing.
“In addition, South Africa can utilise its location and expertise to increase its share of the global marine manufacturing market, including ship-building and repair, rig repair and refurbishment or boat-building,” he said.
“Against this backdrop, the aspiration of this workstream is to grow the marine transport and manufacturing sector over the next five years, to increase the contribution to GDP and multiply the number of jobs in South Africa.”
Zuma said offshore oil and gas exploration would deal with issues that government had previously tackled.
“The aspiration of this workstream is to further enhance the enabling environment for exploration of oil and gas wells, resulting in an increased number of exploration wells drilled, while simultaneously maximising the value captured for South Africa,” he said.
Aquaculture, meanwhile, remained an underdeveloped sector.
“South Africa's aquaculture sector has an increasingly important contribution to make globally in food security. Despite its relatively small size, aquaculture in South Africa has shown strong growth of 6.5 percent per annum.
“By generating jobs, especially in fish processing and marketing, employment in aquaculture can enhance the economic and social status of individuals in multiple coastal communities.”
Zuma said the objective of marine protection services and governance was to balance economic opportunities while maintaining environmental integrity.
“The aspiration of this workstream is to develop an incremental and integrated approach to planning, monitoring and execution of ocean governance and enforcement in the next few years,” he said.
Zuma said the ocean could contribute up to R177 billion to the GDP.
Teams of experts had already begun preparing its ocean plan.
“Our teams began working here in Durban on 8 July and will continue working until 15 August 2014, preparing the action plan for unlocking the potential of the country's oceans,” he said.
“We are pleased that over 180 delegates from national government departments, provincial departments, civil society, the private sector, labour and academia are participating in the oceans component of Operation Phakisa.” - Sapa