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Marine Spatial Planning

Operation Phakisa has made a commitment to undertake Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) in order to ensure sustainable marine use and provide guidance on trade-offs between competing users of the same ocean space. The marine spatial planning process can go a long way in mitigating potential negative impacts and ensuring a sustainable ocean economy.

The Centre for Environmental Rights is advocating for a number of provisions and processes to ensure that an effective marine spatial planning framework is developed in South Africa which integrates the needs of all potential users without compromising the ecological integrity of our marine ecosystems. Pre-requisites of effective marine spatial planning include:

  1. Broad engagement and public participation, both between government departments and with stakeholders in civil society, communities and academia.
  2. Establishing principles that should inform marine spatial planning processes and decision-making, in order to provide a standard in which to review these processes and decision-making. These principles should include:
    • An ecosystem-based approach
    • Considerations of socio-economic resilience
    • Adoption of the precautionary principle
    • Open and adaptive management
    • Integrated and strategic
    • Spatial efficiency
    • Equality
    • Sustainability
  3. Most importantly, marine spatial planning should adopt an ecosystem-based approach to spatial planning and management; in order to ensure continued ecosystem functioning and ecosystem service provision. This underpins sustainable ocean economic development.
  4. The adoption of key international standard and criteria for ‘best practice’ in marine spatial planning as set out by UNESCO.

Marine spatial planning can further go a long way in addressing risks associated with mineral and petroleum mining and extraction. In this regard, the Centre for Environmental Rights is advocating for the adoption of a network of no-go-areas for mineral and petroleum extraction and fisheries management areas.

Government has committed to establishing a terrestrial network of ‘environmentally significant areas where mineral development would be restricted’. Section 49 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act provides the legal mechanism for restricting mineral development in geographic areas. This commitment, in the Outcome 10 Delivery Agreement, is silent on marine environments. There is a strong argument, particularly in relation to the extent of development pressure, to commit to a network of marine no-go-areas.

A further tool for improving marine resource management is establishing a network of fisheries management areas (FMAs). This would improve the management of our fisheries resources and provide a degree of protection from incompatible development, such as seabed mining. The power to declare FMAs lies with the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries under the Marine Living Resources Act. The CER believe that this moment, where government is prioritising marine spatial planning, is an opportune one to establish FMAs.