World Oceans Day 2012

Event date: 
2012-06-08 10:22


Introduction and background


World Oceans Day was first introduced in 1992 to raise awareness of the crucial role the sea plays as sources of food, oxygen and medicine. It was officially recognised by the United Nations (UN) in 2008 and is observed on June 8 each year.  World Ocean Day is celebrated each year to highlight the importance of the ocean in our daily lives.It is one of the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe. The Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the impacts of human actions on the ocean; and to mobilise and unite the world behind a project of sustainable global ocean management.


Oceans Day 2012 theme and activities

The 2012 theme is: “Knowing our Oceans, Safeguarding their benefits.” The theme emphasises the fundamental importance of understanding the oceans and the way in which they impact on society. Our oceans provide numerous benefits that can only be secured and safeguarded through knowledge. The benefits derived from the oceans include: climate regulation, waste absorption, sustenance (sea food), economic development (tourism, seafood distribution), transportation (shipping), medicine (Biomedical products from marine plants and animals) and recreation (swimming).
As part of the 2012 World Oceans Day and Environment Month celebrations, Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi will also launch the new Recreational Coastal Water Quality Guidelines as a further tool to assist Government in safeguarding the benefits we derive from the ocean, in particular benefits in terms of public recreation.
Oceans are among our biggest resources for life on the earth but are also our biggest dumping grounds. Many materials that are dumped into our oceans affect the quality of ocean and coastal waters. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, marine pollution caused by sewage, litter, oil spills and dumped materials, is considered to be one of the five greatest threats to the ocean environment.
South Africa has a coastline of over 3,000km with hundreds (if not thousands) of beaches designated for the public’s enjoyment and recreation. In addition, South Africa is the only African country that is an active participant in the International Blue Flag Campaign, with 28 beaches accredited with a Blue Flag status. The water quality at South Africa’s beaches must be carefully monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure that the public’s health is not compromised. The monitoring and management of coastal water quality directly contributes to the health of our ocean, and ultimately our communities.
East London, like several other coastal cities in South Africa, has a number of magnificent sandy beaches that are frequently used for tourism and recreational purposes such as swimming, surfing, diving and angling. However, East London is experiencing challenges in its management of municipal wastewater, which significantly threatens seawater quality at its public beaches.
The Hood Point sewage outfall located along the West Bank for instance, has for some time been discharging untreated sewage directly into the surf zone. Studies have found high levels of sewage pollution along several important beaches. The commemoration of World Oceans Day in East London will contribute significantly toward awareness-raising of the human health risks associated with poor coastal water quality, and therefore the need for ongoing monitoring and observation.

2015 Theme and purpose of the day

The theme for this year, “Climate knowledge for climate action,” provides an opportunity to take stock of the climate knowledge built in the last decades as an essential base to support the path towards more ambitious action to address climate change and climate variability.

The purpose of the day is to create weather awareness and enhance the learners’ knowledge on weather and climate. In this respect, three schools will participate in a competition in the form of seven-minute presentations on climate change. The schools stand a chance to win fantastic prizes from SAWS, DEA and the broadcast media partner, OVHD.

The Deputy Minister Environmental Affairs, Free State MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs; Thabo Mofutsanyane District Mayor and the Maluti-a-Phofong Executive Mayor will lend their public profiles to the day and further act as judges in the competition.

The Free State province has recently experienced severe weather conditions, ranging from droughts and heavy rains to dust storms. There is thus, a dire need to reach out to communities in this province particularly those affected by severe weather events in order to educate them on precautions they can take during these events as well as the interventions by SAWS to ensure the safety of life and property.

The event will ensure that more people become aware of the work of SAWS as the national provider of weather and climate-related information, technological advancements and the various careers and bursary opportunities available for the youth at the state-owned entity.


South Africa’s celebration

The observance of World Oceans Day in South Africa allows us to highlight the impact of oceans on our country and the various ways in which oceans contribute to our country. Celebrating the day provides the department with an opportunity to highlight the considerable challenges we face in dealing with marine pollution, maintaining the oceans’ capacity to regulate the global climate, supply essential ecosystem services and provide sustainable livelihoods and safe recreation.

The celebration of the day coincides with and forms part of the dedication of June as National Environment Month

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