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DEA hosts National Ocean and Coastal Information Management System Stakeholder Workshop

15 October 2015


The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DST), held a stakeholder workshop to refine the user-requirements of the new National Ocean and Coastal Information Management System (O&C IMS), from 14 - 15 October 2015, in Milnerton, Cape Town.

The two departments have started an exciting process to work with key stakeholders to develop a National Ocean and Coastal Information Management System for South Africa, as well as to extend earth observation capability which is known as the O&C IMS Project.

The Department of Environmental Affairs has a legal obligation to develop the National Ocean and Coastal Information Management System for South Africa. The White Paper for Sustainable Coastal Development in South Africa of 2000, indicated that there was a need for a National Coastal Information Management Systems and mandated DEA to develop a system that is user-friendly, cost effective and integrates the national information systems related to coastal management and protection. 

The White Paper further indicated that provision had to be made to ensure that all stakeholders have access to information and need to include specialist advisory and technical support for decision-making in all spheres of Government. In 2008 the Integrated Coastal Management Act (Act no. 24 of 2008) placed a legal obligation on the Minister of the DEA to develop such an information and reporting system. The creation of a national O&C IMS is a key requirement in order to fully implement the White Paper for Sustainable Coastal Development in South Africa (2000), the Integrated Coastal Management Act (Act No. 24 of 2008), the National Environmental Management of the Oceans White Paper (2014) and the outcomes of Operation Phakisa.

The purpose of this workshop was to bring together ocean and coastal stakeholders to provide inputs into the National O&C IMS Project, find commonalities, facilitate collaboration in an inclusive environment; and form technical working groups to support the O&C IMS Project objectives going forward. The output of this workshop will be a technical roadmap for the next five years for the National O&C IMS Project and will include the prioritized specification of the O&C IMS core Information and Communication Technology development.

This project forms part of the Operation Phakisa (Marine Protection Services and Ocean Governance - Initiative 6: National Ocean and Coastal Information System and Extending Earth Observation Capability) Action Plan endorsed by Cabinet and will take five years to fully develop. However, it is foreseen that elements of an operational system will already be functional by the end of 2016.

Operation Phakisa is an initiative by the Presidency, which aims to unlock the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans. The Oceans Economy Lab, under the leadership of the Department of Environmental Affairs, has already been completed. To unlock the ocean economy, four priority areas were identified as new growth areas in the ocean economy, with the objective of growing them and deriving value for the country. The four priority areas are, Marine transport and manufacturing activities, Offshore oil and gas exploration, Aquaculture; and Marine protection services and ocean governance.

The outcomes of the Operation Phakisa Initiative 6 O&C IMS Project and Extending Earth Observation Capability is to: Firstly establish Earth Observation Technology Capacity for the South African Exclusive Economic Zone as well as the extended continental shelf by 2019/20. Secondly, to deliver the National Ocean and Coasts Information Management System by 2019/20, and finally to establish and implement the Data and Earth Observation Infrastructure required of the O&C IMS.  These processes will run in parallel and key to its success is the development of an Information Management System that will integrate current and future data sources and systems, information and decision-support tools into a user-friendly and cost effective National Ocean and Coastal Information Management System for the benefit of relevant stakeholders.

It is envisaged that the O&C IMS Project will allow the department to link with other partners in South Africa and, eventually, within the continent of Africa and internationally. The vision for this project is to have a product that will be accessible in terms of information which can be interactive, controlled and used as a tool for improved decision-making, predictive modelling, research and public information. Some areas of the system will naturally be restricted to authorised users only.

The department has appointed the CSIR Meraka Institute to assist in coordinating the implementation of this project. A Project Steering Committee has been established and the work has commenced.

For media queries, contact:

Zolile Nqayi
Cell: 082 898 6483