Plans under way for eThekwini to copy LA's blue economy projects

EThekwini delegation in Los Angeles. | Supplied

EThekwini delegation in Los Angeles. | Supplied

Published Jun 26, 2024


Durban — After Cape Town, there are plans for Durban to start leveraging on international best practice in the blue economy, encompassing all ocean-related industries including maritime transport, fisheries, renewable energy and tourism.

To make this a reality, a delegation from the City, led by Economic Development and Planning Committee chairperson councillor Thembo Ntuli met with AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles in the US recently.

The eThekwini delegation included city manager Musa Mbhele and head of Catalytic Projects in the City and acting chief operations officer George Mohlakoana.

On this occasion AltaSea brought together the world’s finest climate and marine scientists and engineers to with an intention to conduct breakthrough research and discover solutions to food and energy supply, climate change, and ocean exploration.

Addressing the delegation, AltaSea President and CEO Terry Tamminen said their focus was on investing in economic activity that seeks to to promote the wellbeing of ocean ecosystems, enable economic growth, create jobs, and improve livelihoods. Whilst sustainably using ocean’s resources.

“We are so excited that representatives from the City of Durban are here because we think it has so much in common with what we are doing. AltaSea is a non-profit organisation that was established to take over a 35 acre campus in the Port of Los Angeles’ old historic warehouse and renovate them into a modern blue economy campus. So the blue economy encompasses aquaculture both on land and at sea, including renewable energy from the ocean, underwater robotics and anything that has to do with the ocean. We are hoping that we can create a similar AltaSea facility in Durban and even in the port of Durban, where we can share what we know through our researchers and our companies,” Tamminen said.

According Mbhele what will fast-pace such a project would be replicating the AltaSea, if one seeks influences in terms of growth trajectory of the City of Durban.

“We had a very successful engagement at the Port of Los Angeles and met the President of AtlaSea a company that runs an incubator programme for business that are linked to the blue ocean economy. They shared with us a number of opportunities for developing small businesses and have shown keen interest to help various role players in Durban to participate meaningfully in the blue economy. They have also promised that they will support the city in applying for funding from the Bloomberg Philanthrophic fund to support the ideas that we have for our city,” Mbhele said.

Engagements with AltaSea and destination promotion activations taking place in Los Angeles form part of the city’s aggressive drive to grow the economy and attract international investors to the Resurgence Conference taking place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (Durban ICC) from July 17 to 21.

The blue economy has been seen to bring about for the youth and that’s according to the World Bank Group.

In the Western Cape, the City of Cape Town has the blue economy in place. For instance the Ocean Sports sector in the Cape is worth around R1.4bn per annum. This sector is a combination of small niche companies in skateboarding, surfing, windsurfing, SUP, surfski, ocean kayaking, sportfishing, scuba diving and ocean safety sectors. This economy is dominated by the Kite Surfing sector that generates over R500 million per annum.

According to Blue Cape, the Cape boat building industry is well known and has a good global reputation, regularly being nominated for and winning international awards.

Blue Cape said that the largest number of boats manufactured are catamarans and South Africa is ranked globally as number 2 in the world after France in terms of catamaran units produced.

Robertson and Caine produces more than 220 boats per year in the luxury catamaran sector and employ 1 700 people.

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