National Marine Week, 5 - 11 October 2015
South Africa has over 3000 km of coastline and some of the most diverse marine environments of the world. The benefits derived from the oceans include: climate regulation, waste absorption, sustenance (sea food), economic development (tourism, seafood distribution), transportation (shipping), medicine (biomedical products from marine plants and animals) and recreation (swimming, diving and so forth).
National Marine Week is celebrated annually during the second week of October. This is an Environmental Awareness Campaign driven by the Department of Environmental Affairs. Its purpose is to create awareness of the oceans and coastal environment, the promotion of sustainable utilisation and conservation thereof, for the benefit of both present and future generations. This campaign assumes that all South Africans (coastal and inland) are responsible for the well-being of the ocean and coastal environment.
The awareness is therefore intended for all South Africans, but each year a sector of society is prioritised. However school learners between Grades 9 – 11 are always included.
South Africa comes from a past of separatism. This included exclusive use of the environment by particular racial groupings. This introduces challenges when addressing environmental and conservation issues. Socio-economic inequalities as a legacy further exacerbate the problem. This speaks, in particular, to government and private research institutions and establishments. Scientific research has proven over years to be pivotal in appropriate management of our oceans and coasts. Scientists and researchers however continue to fail at communicating their messages to the persons it matters the most to, the South African Public. The evolution of our “fledgling” democracy has ensured a generation that can understand messages better with improving education.
In addition, the South African government launched the Operation Phakisa: Ocean Economy initiative approximately one year ago when National Marine Week is celebrated during 2015. It is therefore an opportunity to also advocate and educate the public of this important initiative.
This year the key focus will be on sister National Departments participating in the Ocean Economy initiative as well as South Africans that live far from the coast (Gauteng). It is envisaged that officials from the various National Departments should note the importance of the ocean across a spectrum of socio-economic activities and the importance of protecting it. It would be beneficial to cooperate with this important sector of South African Society. Members of Parliament have also been invited to attend the exhibitions for this purpose. In addition, the youth, in the form of school learners, are also a target group.
This year’s exhibitions will attempt to increase the impact factor of National Marine Week by focusing the exhibitions on marine related issues, instead of marine management and scientific disciplines. This will be done through creative displays and products. Youth of today are techno-savvy, embracing the digital era that they live in using various electronic devices to access information that is useful for educational, entertainment, social and otherwise. It is therefore important that the campaign seek to embrace all these attributes in an attempt to have a maximum impact factor. A combination of conventional and digital media will be included in this campaign.
National Marine Week will be celebrated under the theme “#OCEANS 70/20: Decoding Mysteries, Optimising Opportunities”.
It is a symbol that is used before a keyword or phrase in social media platforms to categorise/classify. This allows for searching or identifying other messages in the same category.
This is a word that represents the entire marine environment, from the coast to far offshore, including and beyond our ocean borders or EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). However, in this context,the word OCEANS is derived from the first letters of the phrase:
Opportunities for Community and Economy: Advantages from Natural Services
These two numbers have been combined together as a “curiosity factor”, to create questions and dialogue, relevant to the marine environment and South Africa.
More than 70% of earth’s surface is covered by the ocean..
- Decoding Mysteries
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, in order to show ordinary citizens how oceans play a role in their daily lives.
The oceans have the potential of being a major driver towards the betterment of South Africans. It is a vast natural resource and as a developing country we need to utilise these resources sustainably to ensure they build a better South Africa, therefore the word optimising instead of maximising. It also points to the fact that optimising the use of the oceans for economic development happens in a balanced and environmentally sustainable way. Related to this is the most recent government innitiative to boost the country's economy through oceans economy called Opearation Phakisa.
The week-long exhibitions will begin on Monday (5 October 2015) with a formal launching event by the Minister of Environmental Affairs delivering a key note address. It will be attended by invited guests, school learners, invited media and departmental staff. Thereafter the exhibitions will begin with a viewing a purpose developed short video entitled “Introducing the Oceans”. The audience will be then be directed to an exhibition space to engage with marine issues highlighted in this year’s theme. The discussion will be enhanced with created Augmented Reality 3D models. The next exhibition space is the “Interactive Area” where participants will be able to learn about various marine related issues in a relaxed and informal manner.
Various impressive pieces of equipment utilised by the department will be on display with information. A number of marine themed games will be available to engage people to learn about the marine environment in a fun and interactive manner. The department has created a number of short videos speaking to work done by the department, which will be displayed along a wall. This can be viewed at the participant’s leisure. Interesting display techniques are being employed to create an impactful exhibition. One such element is a mirrored maze. This consists of projected screens mirrored to create an encompassing underwater world experience.
A career booth will also be available to provide information on marine related careers as well as opportunities for bursaries. The information will be presented in the form of a booklet and on smart devices made available at the exhibition stand. Exhibitors will be at hand to answer questions from participants.
School learners will be invited to the exhibitions from Monday to Thursday. From Friday to Sunday, the exhibitions will open to the public.
Minister Molewa, accompanied by MEC for Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Limpopo, Mr Seaparo Sekoati, launched the National Marine Week campaign, in Polokwane, Limpopo. The objective of the campaign is to create awareness of the oceans and coastal environment in order 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.”