POLOKWANE – The oceans are a mysterious place, unexplored and full of wonder. There are many discoveries waiting to be made – benefits and influences, scientific discoveries and innovations. These mysteries need to be deciphered and uncovered to show ordinary citizens how the oceans play a role in their daily lives.
This was the message when the Minister of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Edna Molewa, accompanied by the MEC for Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Seaparo Sekoati, launched the National Marine Week at Bolivia Lodge on Monday.
This is an initiative of the DEA to raise awareness about the marine environment and inter-connectivity of oceans with the rest of inland South Africa. The campaign also aims to promote sustainable use and conservation for the benefit of present and future generations.This year’s campaign is celebrated under the theme: Oceans 70/20: Decoding Mysteries, Maximising Opportunities.
Oceans means opportunities for community and economy and advantages from natural services .The 70/20 refers to more than 70% of the earth’s surface covered by ocean and the fact that South Africa is currently celebrating 20 years of freedom. It therefore marks what the government has achieved in the last 20 years but also what is planned over the next 20 years.
Speaking during the launch, Minister Molewa highlighted the fact that for the first time this year National Marine Week is taken to the inland provinces. “This is because we want all our people to know – and especially the youth – that the ocean is also a major source of economic development.
“Though many of you here today will have heard the term ‘oceans economy’ or ‘blue economy’, I would like for a minute to decode these terms. Realising as we do that oceans have a major role to play in humanity’s future: the oceans economy or blue economy offers an approach to sustainable development,” she explained.
Molewa further stated that the marine and coastal environment must be seen as a key resource that doesn’t only provide food, but also livelihoods, means of transport, tourism and energy. “Day after day, new frontiers are being opened up in marine resource development; ranging from energy exploitation, to the bio-prospecting and mining of the seabed for mineral and other resources.
“Harnessing the potential of the oceans economy or blue economy is the start of a new era in our country’s development. And we are here today to tell you that you, each and every one of you – can be part of this,” added Molewa.
Meanwhile experts have warned South Africans to be careful not to spoil the country’s coastal and marine assets as scientists emphasise the environmental and economic benefits that oceans bring.
Grade 12 learners studying maths and science in various schools were part of the launch. Molewa invited members of the public to visit the department’s exhibition which showcases the wonders of the ocean and its opportunities. The week-long exhibition will kick-off on Monday, 5 October and ends on Saturday, 10 October.