Last night, 12 October 2016, the Two Oceans Aquarium was the setting for WWF South Africa’s launch of their report, “Oceans Facts and Futures: Valuing South Africa’s ocean economy”. It was an especially important night, as it took place during National Marine Week 2016. 

In attendance were members of the media, WWF SASSI partners Pick n Pay, representatives from the Ruth Prowse School of Art, the WWF South Africa’s team as well as Trevor Manuel, who delivered the keynote address.

The MC for the evening was WWF-SA  Executive Manager of Operations Augustine Morkel

Two Oceans Aquarium CEO Michael Farquhar kicked off the proceedings by remembering the opening of the Aquarium nearly 21 years ago (in November 1995) – when Trevor Manuel himself cut the ribbon that declared Cape Town’s first and only aquarium, open.

Two Oceans Aquarium CEO Michael Farquhar, Trevor Manuel and WWF SA Senior Manager: Marine Programme John Duncan 

Michael also spoke of ocean optimism, mentioning three local projects in particular – the WWF’s Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), the Shark Spotters, and the 22 proposed MPAs in South Africa – that marked “groundswells of positivity”. 

The Ruth Prowse School of Art's outreach skills programme beneficiaries had their wares on display

Trevor’s keynote address looked to efficient and pro-active legislation as well as education and ocean literacy as the cornerstones of hope for South Africa’s ocean. “We look at the oceans as a resource, and we think, ‘What can we take?’ But we must be asking: how can I invest in it?” he said. “We need to act.”

Trevor Manuel: "We must act."

Next up, Head of Environmental Programmes at WWF South Africa Theressa Franz gave a summary of the "Oceans Facts and Futures" report. The downward trend in the mislabelling of seafood in South Africa was presented as evidence of the positive work done by SASSI. She also said that the ocean economy depends on in-tact, viable ecosystems – and that good governance is one of the missing links in making this a reality.

WWF SA Head of Environmental Programmes Theressa Franz 

The WWF’s report is essential reading for anyone invested in or concerned with the health of our seas. It describes four potential future scenarios depending on the choices we make today.

The WWF is calling for a number of strategic interventions including:

  1. A more integrated approach to ocean management which includes effective marine spatial planning and the prioritisation of identifying and protecting at least 10% of our oceans in marine protected areas.
  2. The safeguarding of seabeds which are currently under threat from marine mining without a full understanding of the ecological impact.
  3. Enabling participatory co-management of marine resources through the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management.
  4. Empowering consumers and incentivising fisheries improvement through market-based initiatives such as WWF-SASSI.
  5. Encouraging cooperation between government, industry and civil society stakeholders through organisations such as the Responsible Fisheries Alliance and the MPA Forum.
  6. Supporting community-based stewardship approaches to address the environmental and social challenges facing our coastal communities.

To read the full report, click here.

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