2020 National Marine Week: 12 - 17 0ctober 2020
The National Marine Week (NMW) is a Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries led awareness campaign that takes place annually during the second week of October. The awareness programme is intended to highlight the importance of the marine environment and the role it plays in the daily lives of all South Africans, whether living inland or at the coast.
It is thus important that all South African be aware that we all rely on healthy oceans with a rich diversity of life to provide our rainfall and many other essentials we require to survive, such as food and oxygen.
Oceans through storms and flooding, present a risk that cannot be prevented but can be managed through better planning. Oceans provide endless opportunities recreation to be enjoyed by all of us.
The celebrations and observation National Marine Week recognises the important role that the oceans surrounding South Africa play in giving life to the country. The campaign therefore seeks to foster a sense of pride in each South African for the beautiful oceans and coasts, celebrating our unique environment and the one-of-a-kind events that occur off our coasts.
Understanding the marine environment and its impact on our country
South Africa enjoys the benefit of a relatively large ocean environment next to its land territory. Technology advancements over the last century have made the ocean much more accessible to people. Annually through the polar research and supply vessel, the SA Agulhas II, DEFF undertakes several voyages to the Antarctica and islands in the Southern Oceans. That forms part of efforts to understand the marine environment and its impact on our country.
However, while about 70 % of earth’s surface is covered by the ocean, our knowledge of what goes on in the oceans around is still relatively limited. There are mysterious and peculiar creatures and habitats at the oceans depths that must still be discovered and understood. By understanding how these creatures live we can progress in many areas of technology and science.
Understanding the oceans also has another important benefit to countries - Monitoring the ocean and the atmosphere at the appropriate scales, improves our ability to understand the extent of extreme weather and climate events. The country may not be able to stop extreme storms, waves and tsunamis but through understanding the likelihood of where and how they occur, we are better prepared to decrease the damage to property and threat to human life. South Africa’s unique oceans and coasts must be appreciated as an area of global heritage and as a source of national pride and advantage.
The planet’s environment, climate and weather are changing at a faster pace because of how we as people live. The oceans play an important role in both contributing to the changes in the environment and in also being impacted by these changes. For example, with the oceans taking up so much of the earth’s surface, it must be a big player in regulating the temperature around the whole earth. Understanding that fact is necessary on how our earth works.
The theme for the South African National Marine Week has in recent years followed the theme of the United Nations World Ocean’s Day. The Theme for the World Ocean’s Day, celebrated on the 8th of June annually is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.”
The outreach and awareness campaign aims to:
- raise awareness for conservation of the ocean and coastal ecosystems within a changing Climate,
- educating the general public, but particularly the youth, about relevant issues related to the Ocean Economy and other benefits and
- encouraging broader participation in marine related professions needed by the country. It seeks to promote the appreciation of the role of the oceans, and the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) support for ocean and coasts management.
The target audience for National Marine Week is high school students, coastal communities, marine sector industries, stakeholders, environmentalists, media, and the country at large.
The School interaction for 2020 is consequently planned around a much curtailed school programme. This will involve inviting a limited set of schools to participate in a beach walk activity, in the coastal provinces of KwaZulu-Natal (Ethekwini) and the Eastern Cape (Port Elizabeth). The Durban activities are planned in partnership with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) who have a unique training facility at Treasure Beach, in Ethekwini. WESSA has an existing outreach programme and the Department has partnered with the organisation previously.
The Department will partner with Nelson Bay Municipality and the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) to plan the beach walk at Happy Valley Summerstrand. One hundred and fifty learners from local schools will be identified through the Communications existing school network and local education authorities. The limited number of schools and learners will allow for leaners to be divided into smaller groups to accommodate social distancing and sanitising protocols to be implemented.
To include a broader range of leaners the Branch will partner with the South African Earth Observation Network (SAEON), and entity of the Department of Science and Innovation to host a webinar for learners focusing on the theme of National Marine Week, described in section 2.5 below. The Webinar will be planned as 1 to 1.5 hour engagement during Marine Week and will take place after core school hours so that learners can participate either at school after formal class hours or from any mobile device away from school. SAEON has an established learner contact list in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape. The engagement will focus on profiling a career scientists and technicians in Department including aspects of technology innovation.
Beach Education Walk: 17 October 2020 – Port Elizabeth and Durban
Beach Education Walk
Port Elizabeth - Happy Valley Summerstrand and Aquarium
Human connections to the Ocean
Beach Education Walk
Durban – Treasure Beach and WESSA Education Centre
- South African Naval Hydrographer
- South African Maritime Safety Authority
- Branch Annual Science report
- South African National Biodiversity Institute - Marine Protected Areas Map
- South African Weather Services Marine Portal -
- South Africa Earth Observation Network (includes Two Ocean & Coasts Nodes)
- South African National Space Agency (especially look out for the Space Agency’s work in Antractica)
- South African Council for GeoScience
- United Nations World Oceans Day Page
- National Geographic Kids Oceans page