Marine Spatial Planning Bill to be introduced to Parliament

28 February 2017


Cabinet has approved the submission to Parliament in 2017, of the Draft Marine Spatial Planning Bill. The Bill seeks to provide a legal framework for the development of a marine spatial planning system that promotes economic growth; and is facilitated by coordinating planning across multiple sectors.

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) guides what happens in the marine area, ensuring that the right activities are carried out in the right place and at the right time. It therefore enables sustainable economic growth whilst protecting the marine environment, and recognising the needs of all. MSP is an approach that has been used and implemented by an increasing number of countries around the world, with South Africa being one of the countries beginning to implement the process.

Currently there are numerous uncoordinated, overlapping activities and an increased use of ocean resources which negatively impacts on the sustainability and benefits of ocean goods and services to the South African economy. The sectoral approach to marine regulation has largely evolved in a policy vacuum.

Marine users in the country face significant challenges in balancing the competing and conflicting demands for marine resources, economic development, and conservation. The marine planning initiatives to allocate space for these activities, occur on a single-sector basis without any planning that considers the area as a whole. Single-sector planning leads to fragmentation of both human use, and natural resources. As a result, the health of marine ecosystems is declining, and user conflicts are increasing at a time when established uses are expanding.

To address these challenges, the MSP Bill will be used as a governance and planning tool that will advance integration and a process that will allocate the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in the ocean space. It will improve decision making and enable the co-existence of different human activities while protecting the environment.

DEA has collaborated with all relevant national authorities that have a mandate relating to marine planning and management. A governmental Working Group has been established and consists of representatives from a number of government departments including; The Department of Environmental Affairs; The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; The Department of Energy; The Department of Defence; The Department of Mineral Resources; The Department of Tourism; and The Department of Transport.

For the purposes of implementing MSP and making it manageable for detailed planning, South Africa’s ocean space is divided into smaller “Marine Areas” that serve as planning units. South Africa’s Marine Area plans are prepared sequentially. This allows efforts to be focused on one Marine Area at a time, meaning that the experience gained from preparing each plan can be used in improving the preparation or review of subsequent plans.

South Africa’s shared vision for MSP is to achieve a productive, healthy and safe ocean that is accessible, understood, equitably governed and sustainably developed and managed for the benefit of all.

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