Ocean Economy

South Africa launched Operation Phakisa in July 2014, an initiative striving to capitalize on ocean resources through a results-based, transparent development approach. Operation Phakisa focuses on six priority areas, including marine transport and manufacturing; offshore oil and gas exploration; aquaculture; marine protection services and ocean governance; small harbors; and coastal and marine tourism. The government has noted that the Oceans Economy has the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to South Africa’s GDP by 2033 and create between 800 000 to one million jobs.

Currently, South Africa’s rich and productive coastal waters support thousands of jobs and add millions of rand to the national economy each year, with coastal goods and services estimated to contribute 35% to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP).  In 2010, the ocean contributed approximately R54-billion to South Africa’s GDP and accounted for approximately 316,000 jobs. It is estimated that 30% of South Africa’s population live within 60km of the coast (DEA 2000). 100,000 people rely on fisheries for their livelihoods and source of income and approximately 312,000 tons of seafood is eaten annually, with per capita seafood consumption at 6.25kg in 2010.

The commercial fisheries field consists of more than 22 sectors engaging more than 2,900

rights holders and approximately 1,788 vessels. Their annual production was more than 600,000 tons, with a value of R5.8 billion in 2012.

Ports and Harbours Infrastructure: There are six major ports on the South African coastline in Durban, Richards Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London, Cape Town and Saldanha, which also serve the neighboring landlocked countries. Over 30,000 vessels pass through South Africa’s coast on an annual basis, with 13,000 vessels docking in its ports, providing numerous opportunities for job creation[1].

Oil and gas resources: South Africa has potential resources of approximately 9 billion barrels of oil, equivalent to 40 years of oil consumption. Additionally, there is approximately 60 trillion cubic feet of gas, equivalent to 375 years of gas consumption. Around 80 oil rigs are estimated to be in the range of Western Cape, offering significant potential for repairs in the ports, as well as land based operational support[2]. 

Fisheries / Aquaculture: The aquaculture sector in South Africa employs around 15,000 people in direct and full-time jobs. Experts estimate the revenue contributed by aquaculture to South Africa’s economy to be as much as R3 billion[3]. Stocks of both deep-water and shallow-water hake off South Africa have recovered to biologically sustainable levels because of good recruitment and strict management measures introduced since 2006.

Coastal Tourism: has the potential to contribute R21,4 billion to GDP and create 116,000 jobs by 2026. 

Marine Spatial Planning/ICZM: The South African government has decided to undertake MSP as part of the Oceans Economy component of Operation Phakisa. The MSP component forms part of Operation Phakisa Initiative 10 ‘Marine Spatial Planning Process’, led by the Department of Environmental Affairs.