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DEA aims to host Centre of Competence for Operational Oceanography

07 December 2015


In collaboration with a range of international and regional partners, South Africa will aim to host a Centre of Competence for Operational Oceanography in Cape Town.

This commitment was announced by Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, the Director General of the Department of Environmental Affairs, during the launch of the second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE2), at the Symposium on the Indian Ocean in Goa, India, last week.

“As a firm contribution to the current science plan and capacity building initiatives, South Africa will aim to host a Centre of Competence for Operational Oceanography in Cape Town. We will rely on the combined efforts of our partners to build this Centre to support and facilitate technical and engineering solutions to ocean observations in the region; including growing the number of skilled people,” she said.

South Africa is hoping that the establishment of such a centre will, like the development of the Indian Institute of Oceanography 50 years ago, have a positive impact on the growth of oceanographic science in this country and contribute to a better understanding of the ocean for the benefit of society.

“Like our counterparts in India, which used the opportunity of the first Indian Ocean Expedition to review and commit itself to understanding the oceans, South Africa, has identified the second International Indian Ocean Expedition as an opportunity to focus our work in the ocean, both from a science and management perspective,” said Ms Ngcaba.

South Africa will also make available the SA Agulhas II for a 30 to 40 day research cruise in both 2017 and 2018, dedicated to work in the Indian Ocean.

The United Nation’s (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) has declared the next five years as focus years for research and monitoring of the Indian Ocean. This period has been named the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE2).

The first expedition (IIOE) was launched 50 years when the global marine science community, including representatives from South Africa, recognised that the Indian Ocean and its dynamics were poorly understood compared to more studied oceanic basins, in terms of threats and opportunities as well as ecosystem and planetary functions. It was also recognised that the areas could benefit from a concerted international multi-disciplinary research effort.

“South Africa and the Department of Environmental Affairs will support the efforts of the IIOE2 both nationally and in the international roles we occupy. Regionally as current Chair of the IOC African Sub-Commission, we will strive to align these work programmes over the next few years,” added Ms. Ngcaba.

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