South Africa celebrates World Oceans Day 2020

Event date: 
2020-06-07 23:15 to 2020-06-08 22:30

Theme and messages
South Africa's contribution



Introduction and background


The department will participate in this year’s celebrations of World Oceans Day which is being celebrated under the theme: Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean, on 8 June 2020.

WOD is celebrated annually on 8 June and was originally proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since then, WOD has been coordinated internationally by the Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network with global participation. It was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008, and is observed, since 2009, by all member states including South Africa.

As the challenges to the ocean continue to grow, so does the need for novel solutions and the people driving them.


Theme and messaging


To that end, the theme of UN World Oceans Day 2020 is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.” Innovation—relating to the introduction of new methods, ideas, or products—is a dynamic term, and one that is fundamentally filled with hope.

Innovation in understanding the ocean and describing its living and non-living features like currents, temperature, storms, surface and underwater waves improves how humans access and use the ocean. All countries want to use the ocean sustainability. Countries, including South Africa want to increase benefits from the ocean economy, and want to do this within sustainability limits. How much fish can we catch, without damaging the species ability to regenerate and to play its ecosystem role or how much sewage pollution can our ocean absorb before there are permanent negative changes to its functioning. More recently aspects of accumulation of plastics and micro-plastic, and the impacts of noise on ocean ecosystems are also receiving more attention.


South africa's contribution


The department over the last five years has partnered with the Department of Science and Innovation to develop South Africa’s Ocean and Coasts Information System - OCIMS. The system relies on several government agencies contributing their specialised data or information to a central platform that creates products that can used by the shipping, fishing and aquaculture industries.

The system at present can track vessels around the South African coast to assist in vessel operations, pollution incident management, search and rescue and monitoring fishing by larger vessels in offshore marine protected areas. A different knowledge product provides alerts on algal blooms that may be potentially dangerous to coastal users and fish farms. Other tools allow for coastal managers to gather and display information of different ocean uses.  

The National Oceans and Coastal Information Management System (OCIMS) provides decision support for the effective governance of South Africa’s oceans and coasts.

The system is free for all users through the internet. 




Today as South Africa joins the global community in celebrating the annual World Oceans Day, it also celebrates the declaration of a network of 20 new representative Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - an important step in the protection of our ocean environment.

The government recently declared a network of 20 new MPAs that increases the spatial protection of South Africa’s ocean environment from the current 0.4% to 5.4%. The network of 20 MPAs would also provide a measure of protection to 90% of marine habitat types within the South African Exclusive Economic Zone...

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