Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) stakeholder information sharing event
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The current management of the ocean is fragmented with individual sectors operating in silos. The silo approach to management of the ocean is no longer viable and there is a need for a coordinated multi-sector management of South Africa’s Ocean space which promotes economic growth and the sustainable utilisation of ocean resources. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) offers a practical way to create and establish a more rational and integrated multi-sector approach to manage human use of our shared marine space and the interactions among these different uses.
MSP is a process that guides when and where activities should occur in the marine environment over a given period. MSP does not intend to replace sector management of specific sector activities, but provides an organising framework that integrates decision-making across sectors. The major MSP output is a comprehensive sustainable development plan that guides where and when uses occur in the ocean. To realise MSP, there is a need to transform thinking in government, the private sector and the civil society about ocean governance in order to integrate the management of the ocean across all sectors.
In 2014, Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy was launched to fast-track growth in the oceans economy and MSP was identified as one of the strategic initiatives to provide an ecosystem approach in the unlocking of economic potential. The vision for MSP is “a productive, healthy and safe ocean that is accessible, understood, equitably governed, sustainably developed and managed for the benefit of all”. The development of MSP will be achieved by focussing on four goals, namely:
- Unlocking the ocean economy,
- engaging with the ocean,
- ensuring a healthy marine ecosystem, and
- contributing to good ocean governance.
The marine environment is one of our greatest assets that needs to be well managed to promote coordination and integration of sectors, while maintaining our biodiversity assets and the benefits they provide to society. Thus, MSP provides the required spatial foundation for a sustainable ocean economy.
In April 2021, the President signed a proclamation for the Marine Spatial Planning Act, Act No 16 of 2018 (MSP Act) to come into force. In terms of the MSP Act, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment is the lead authority for MSP development in South Africa. In that capacity, it facilitates and leads collaborations with all the authorities that have a spatial presence in the marine environment. The following departments and agencies are participating in the Marine Spatial Planning National Working Group (MSP NWG):
- Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
- Mineral Resources and Energy
- Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
- Public Works and Infrastructure
- Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
- Science and Innovation
- Telecommunications and Postal Services
- Sport, Arts and Culture
- South African National Biodiversity Institute
- Petroleum Agency SA
- South African Maritime Safety Authority
- South African Environmental Observation Network
- Council for Geoscience
- South African Heritage Resources Agency
The MSP Secretariat and Working Group are mandated by the MSP Act to raise public awareness on MSP and the benefits it offers in the integrated and sustainable management of marine resources. Stakeholder engagement is an important tool in strategic planning; therefore, the MSP NWG intends to host a stakeholder information sharing session to raise awareness on the MSP process in general, showcase the functionalities of the MSP website, share information on the development of marine sector plans as key inputs for the future marine area plans, and provide the public with information on how to contribute to the development of the Marine Spatial Planning system.
The MSP NWG which constitutes of technical officials from national departments and organs of state was established in terms of the MSP Act to lead the coordinated approach to MSP. As part of the MSP process, the MSP NWG has to date contributed to the development of several products that include: the MSP Act, the MSP framework which was gazetted in 2017 and the MSP National Data and Information Report (NDIR), which is a knowledge baseline document that will give an overview of where and how different sectors are using the marine environment. The NDIR is in its final stage of completion and will be approved by the Directors-General Committee on MSP
The MSP process is currently at a stage where all sectors’ departments, through the participation of MSP NWG members, must prepare marine sector plans which set out priorities and potential use allocations for specific sectors within the ocean environment. The marine sector plans that are being developed will be taken through a stakeholder engagement process for comment and inputs. They are the key input in the development of the marine area plans, which will be negotiated and agreed across all sectors. The first of the four Marine Area Plans to be developed will be the Southern Marine Area plan. The information sharing session will provide an opportunity to share the process and progress to date, along with the steps that will be taken to get public comment and input into the sector plans.
The three (3) hours event will be recorded, and members of the MSP NWG will deliver presentations that will cover MSP awareness and process to date, the ocean economy, stakeholder engagements plans and next steps. Participants will be given an opportunity to ask questions related to the presentations with selected questions being answered by dedicated members of the MSP NWG.