Cape Town - South Africa is uniquely bordered by the ocean on three sides, with an extensive Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) spread across 3 000km of coastline.
As a result, SA launched Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy in July 2014, one of the mechanisms to implement the state's National Development Plan for economic growth and job creation - as SA's vast ocean space is said to be relatively unexplored in terms of its economic potential.
An economic study of the nine sectors that comprise South Africa's ocean economy indicates the ocean has a potential to contribute up to R177 billion to the Gross Domestic Product and create up to one million jobs by 2033.
In 2010 state statistics show that the ocean contributed approximately R54 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounted for approximately 316 000 jobs.
On Friday, President Zuma provided a progress report on the Operation Phakisa initiative at the Port of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province.
In his address the president said to date the state has identified R17 billion in investments in the Oceans Economy, thanks to Operation Phakisa, with some 4 500 jobs created - adding impetus in the development of ports infrastructure.
Added to this, R7 billion has been allocated by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to improve SA's ports.
TNPA recently awarded the V&A Waterfront the status of preferred bidder for an estimated R179 million investment for a new luxury Cruise Terminal in Cape Town. In stark contrast however, Durban's Cruise Terminal has been put on hold TNPA said it was struggling to generate interest from suitable developers for a new passenger terminal in the Port of Durban - this despite cruise tourism being one of the fastest growing tourism sectors globally and seeing almost 50% growth in Durban alone.
The Port of Port Elizabeth is currently being upgraded, with its slipway and lead-in jetties being improved to accommodate more vessels, with a total 12-vessels capacity for hull inspection and maintenance, as compared to the current two.
Three new harbours are also on the cards in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal with the aim of provide opportunities for local and rural economic development.
Other projects underway include The Durban Dry Dock Caisson's R43 million upgrade and improvements to proclaimed fishing harbours in Gansbaai, Saldanha Bay, Struisbaai, Gordons Bay and Lamberts Bay in the Western Cape to the tune of R80 million.
The department is also in the process of appointing a Nautical Science specialist, amongst a number initiatives that are at the stage of consultation - such as Marine Spatial Planning Bill, Aquaculture Bill and the declaration of Twenty-Two offshore Marine Protected Areas.
The aim of the new MPAs is to increase the area of ocean biodiversity that is protected from the current scale - less than 1% - to about 5%, DEA. However the issue of Marine Protected Areas has been highly contests across SA, with the Tsitsikamma MPA pilot case in point, put on hold after conservationists highlighted the potential to "destroy 50 years of conservation".
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