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You are here: Home eNewsletter Archives 2013 june2013 Building on a legacy of coastal and marine science in South Africa

Building on a legacy of coastal and marine science in South Africa

By Penny Haworth, Manager: Communications & Governance, SAIAB

 

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This map of Algoa Bay and St Francis Bay shows the observation equipment run by multiple partners working towards a greater observatory footprint in the SAEON Algoa Bay Sentinel Site, making it the most extensively monitored bay in Africa. Source: Dr Tommy Bornman, SAEON Elwandle Node

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Remote operated vehicle (ROV) operated by the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme.

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The Niskin Rosette measures conductivity, temperature and depth. (Picture: Dr Tommy Bornman)

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Using the newly acquired capstan winch on Honkeneii, SAEON’s research platform, a baited remote underwater stereo-video (stereo-BRUV) rig is retrieved from the ocean floor, where the cameras are left to record fish populations for a one-hour period. (Picture courtesy of Steve Benjamin)

SAEON’s Elwandle (Coastal-inshore) Node and its sister National Research Foundation (NRF) facility, the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), were invited to exhibit at the inaugural Eastern Cape Ports and Maritime Conference 2013 held in Port Elizabeth from 29 to 31 May.

The invitation provided an opportunity to present the NRF as a relevant stakeholder in the development of a South African Maritime Cluster. The event was hosted by the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation.

Platforms for coastal-inshore and marine research

At the conference, SAEON and SAIAB joined forces to highlight aspects of current marine research within the NRF and celebrate the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the long-believed extinct coelacanth. Together, SAEON and SAIAB provide significant platforms for coastal-inshore and marine research, providing coastal vessels, instrumentation, data systems, dive units, remote operated vehicles and skippers, well as monitoring the movements and migrations of marine animals along South Africa’s east coast through the Acoustic Tracking Array Platform.

Coastal and marine resources provide opportunities for economic and social activities that include fisheries, agriculture, mineral resource exploitation and a range of development opportunities. The coast and its many estuaries are also highly valued for recreation. The sustainability of these resources is important since they constitute a rich and diverse national asset, which is sensitive to human-induced and environmental pressures.

In his opening address, the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Affairs MEC, Mcebisi Jonas, indicated that South Africa is not taking advantage of its position in the global maritime sector. The Port of Ngqura has been identified as the fastest growing port world-wide (The Herald, 29.05.13), and this provides unique opportunities for socio-economic development in the Eastern Cape and South Africa.

African Network of Maritime Clusters

A key focus of the conference was to forge a mutually beneficial co-operative alliance to connect an African Network of Maritime Clusters (ANMC) with the European Network of Maritime Clusters and other maritime clusters around the world. Nelson Mandela Bay is a region where small-scale businesses and disadvantaged coastal communities could largely benefit, improving their job opportunities and their lives through application of a proposed micro-enterprise promotion strategy.

The theme of the second day of the conference - Towards an African Network of Maritime Clusters - concentrated on cooperative benefits of developing an African Network of Maritime Clusters; and the role of maritime clusters as incubators of small business enterprises and an African maritime economy. The conference proceedings culminated with the presentation and adoption of the proposed ANMC Nelson Mandela Bay Declaration.

It is hoped that a maritime cluster will stimulate the growth of smaller companies offering services such as boat building and repairs. It could also enhance the existing coastal and marine tourism sector and even, perhaps, encourage the creation of a maritime university.

Research platforms contribute towards protection and preservation of coastal and marine environments ... in support of sustainable economic and social growth in South Africa.

The role of science and research

According to Dr Tommy Bornman, Manager of the SAEON Elwandle Node, science and research form an integral part of maritime clusters. "The NRF is well positioned - through SAEON and SAIAB - to play a lead role in collaboration with local universities in the development of a South African Maritime Cluster," he said.

Key stakeholders at the Conference included the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, the Coega Development Corporation, the East London Industrial Development Zone, Transnet and the Transnet National Ports Authority, the South African Maritime Safety Authority, the South African Navy, the Eastern Cape Department of Transport, the Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) Municipality, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan University, the NMB Business Chamber, Smit Amandla Marine, the National Federated Chamber of Commerce and the NMB Maritime Cluster.

 

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