Kalk Bay is one of the oldest fishing villages in South Africa. Quite a lot of over-fishing is taking place, particularly on the west coast of Africa, and there is an element of illegal and unregulated fishing in it as well, affecting food security. Photo: Tracey Adams
Cape Town - South Africa’s blue (oceans) economy is an area of focus for economic growth and development.

This is according to Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, who heads the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

She spoke to Business Report last week following her attendance last month at the 3rd workshop of the Blue Economy Core Group in Mauritius, where she represented the HSRC on behalf of South Africa.

Bohler-Muller said it was clear that people were starting to talk about the blue economy, which was of national interest and the government is developing a strategy around it, stemming around to some extent from Operation Phakisa.

She said that Operation Phakisa was not where the blue economy originated from as the government strategy had the Oceans Economy, which came from the Oceans Lab and the government preferred to refer to it as the oceans economy because of the fact that it focused on growth and job creation, and added that it was better to look at sustainability as well.

Under Operation Phakisa, Oceans Economy, the South African government aims to grow the oceans economy’s contribution to the country’s gross domestics product to between R129 billion and R177 billion by 2033, about 250 percent to 350 percent of its present value, expected to provide up to a million new jobs.

“So when we create jobs, when we build harbours, when we fish - and Green Peace has been complaining quite a lot about over-fishing on the west coast of Africa - and there is an element of illegal and unregulated fishing in it as well, and this affects food security.

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"Yes, it is there definitely for growth, for employment and that kind of thing, but there needs to be an acknowledgement that exploitation without sustainability is going to cause what’s happening with the land at the moment and there is already a lot of pollution in the ocean, a lot of plastic and debris,” said Bohler-Muller.

She said that the governance issue was an important issue and the council has to ensure that there are proper government mechanisms in place.

“There is a lot of tension around illegal and unregulated fishing within the region and that is something the blue economy also looks at.”

Bohler-Muller said the HSRC, under her leadership, had been running the Blue Economy Core Group, which the organisation has had three workshops dealing with various aspects of the blue economy and would soon become a permanent working group.