2019 Marine Week Celebrations Speech By MEC Bloem

MEC NOMANDLA BLOEM SPEECH AT THE OCCASION OF THE 2019 MARINE MONTH CELEBRATION IN PORT NOLLOTH.
28 October 2019
Honourable Mayor Mr. Arthur Jansen
Councillors present
Head of the Department Mr. Viljoen Mothibi
Acting Head of Department Mr. Lerato wa Modise
Head of Ministry Mr. Kabelo Mohibidu
Senior Managers
Our Learners
 
Ladies and Gentlemen
 
Goeiemore.
 
It is such a great honour to be addressing at this important event when we are celebrating the 2019 Marine Month, in the most tranquil and beautiful Port Nolloth. 
Yesterday when we were driving down here, I was welcomed by a clean surrounding with no plastics or papers lying around in the veld or close to the sea. 
 
One could see that the Richtersveld Municipality is taking good care of the town and the only way to take good care of the town is to enforce by-laws. 

I hope that some of the municipalities who are struggling to maintain the cleanliness in their respective towns, can take it from the Richtersveld municipality.

To the Honourable Mayor and your team, keep it up!!
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, recently I chaired my first Northern Cape Provincial Coastal Committee (PCC) meeting in Okiep, near Springbok. As you are all aware, that the PCC advices me, as the MEC, on matters related to coastal and marine resource policy and management; and co-ordinates effective implementation of the integrated coastal management Act as well as the application of other legislations relevant to the Northern Cape coastal, marine and estuarine environment. 

In that meeting, I urged the then Acting HOD and senior managers who are responsible for marine management, to work hard in making sure that the oceans participate fully in growing the economy of our Province- because oceans economy is critical to the development of our province. 

Numerous investment opportunities exist in the ocean’s economy ranging from waterfronts and water theme parks, energy generation and desalination; to fishing and fish processing; and ship maintenance and repairs.

As the Provincial Government, we are willing to increase partnerships with the private sector, which will give rise to social benefits to the communities of Namakwa and the coastal towns such as Port Nolloth, which are targeted for infrastructure investments.

Even though the Namakwa region is the smallest in terms of population and economic contribution to the Northern Cape, it is however, our gateway to the ocean and our neighbour, Namibia. 
This region connects the Western Cape and Namibia via the N7 national roadway and is thus critical for trade and tourism activity.
 
To this end, the Department will continue its support of the Small Harbours and State-Owned Coastal Property Development initiatives in the Namakwa District.  

Acting HOD and the team, I am challenging you today, that come next year this time, we need to have started projects related to the ocean economy. 

The oceans economy was identified because it remains a largely untapped economic area for our country and in particular our Province.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the National Marine Month, under the theme; “My Ocean Future”, creates awareness of South Africa's marine and coastal environments and the benefits that our oceans bring to our nation.

The 3000 kilometres of the South African coastline, which stretches from the Orange River in the west to Kosi Bay in the east, are rich in marine life and support many different marine ecosystems. 

Of the 3000 kilometres of the South African coastline, the Northern Cape has got the fair share of about 380 km long shoreline. 
 
 
The ocean is of utmost importance to animals, plants and humans as it renders a number of services and I will only mention a few today:
1.South Africa is nestled between two currents: the warm Agulhas and the cold Benguela currents. These currents are key drivers of the South African climate and rainfall conditions. The ocean, being the primary producer of moisture to the atmosphere that produces rain, are playing a critical role in shaping the socio-economic activities in the country. The agricultural sector, which is our food basket, depends heavily on rain and favourable climate conditions.
 
2.The vast majority of our coastline falls within the Succulent Karoo Biome, with many different species of vetplante. It is a biodiversity hotspot of worldwide significance and includes some 432 terrestrial plant species of which 85 are unique to the Succulent Karoo Hotspot and 44 of which are classified as threatened.  The Richtersveld area, in which we are today, is a very high biodiversity priority due to the unique plant species that we get here
 
The entire Northern Cape coastline can be considered as sensitive not only at a national scale but also at a global scale and is therefore deemed highly important in terms of marine protection.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, other services that the ocean provides is that:
•It can generate almost 70% of the oxygen we breathe;
•The ocean helps feed us- think of all the sea-food and products that we get from the ocean;
•Gives us moisture which is important for the plant species along the coast; 
•It can provide drinking water once the salt is removed.
 
Over and above the services that the ocean renders, it also holds potential for our coastal areas for opportunities to market the Northern Cape as a unique Eco-Tourism destination because we have pristine beaches, unique vegetation and rich culture.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, further opportunities are for us to declare more protected areas to conserve more biodiversity, increase the number of Mari-culture initiative, renewable energy through wind turbines and the restoration of disturbed land areas and wetlands.

The Operation Phakisa, which is the vehicle for marine and coastal economic stimulus, has the potential for further economic growth in this area, including tourism opportunities.

Despite the beauty of our pristine coastline we are facing challenges, that poses a threat to our biodiversity.

Firstly, is the down-scaling of mining operations which has left a legacy of high unemployment and shrinking mining towns. 

Second, the illegal mining activities which followed on un-rehabilitated mining areas and poaching of marine resources, as a result of poverty caused by retrenchments added to the challenges we are facing.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the inland activities pose a big pollution problem to our ocean and coast especially plastic pollution as we heard in one of the presentations.

The Pesticides that farmers use, the chemicals that we flush into the storm water systems, littering; which all lands in waterways and eventually in the sea. 

Vehicles driving on the beaches and dunes that kill our plants and animals. It is because of this that the desert rain frog and the Namaqua dwarf adder, that we find only on the dunes along the Namaqua coastline and nowhere else in world, are listed as threatened. 

Over-fishing is also a big concern due to impact on marine species as well as the impacts of climate change.

As much as there are challenges, the Northern Cape coastline also offers a lot of opportunities, amongst others:
1.The opportunity to market the Northern Cape coastline as a unique ecotourism destination due to its unique biodiversity and rich cultural and historical heritage;
2.The opportunity to proclaim more areas as protected areas. The department is in the process of proclaiming the Orange river mouth and surroundings, as a protected area.
3.The possibilities of livelihood opportunities through Mari-culture and fishery. 
4.The opportunity for renewable energy generation (both wind and solar);
5.The opportunity to rehabilitate damaged coastal areas through dunes and wetland.
 
 
In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, let us develop a pride in our beautiful, life-giving environment, and take responsibility, together with the government, to protect our God given natural resources. 

Let this National Marine Week, not be celebrated once a year, but be part of our daily lives.

I thank you.