Operation Phakisa Initiative 5 records success in enhanced compliance and enforcement in the coastal and marine environment
Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy, through its Enhanced and Coordinated Compliance and Enforcement Programme, intends to increase its visibility in the coastal zones and strive to make further positive impacts on addressing a range of illegal activities.
The commitment follows the attendance by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, of the G7 Leaders Summit Outreach in Canada last week.
The summit’s theme was Healthy, Productive and Resilient Oceans and Seas, Coasts and Communities, and addressed many of the opportunities and challenges that are the focus of South Africa’s Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy. This programme seeks to unlock the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans, growing the GDP and creating jobs, while also ensuring healthy, productive and resilient ocean resources.
The Oceans Economy: Initiative 5, which operates within the Marine Protection and Governance Delivery Unit, has created a platform to achieve an integrated and coordinated approach in identifying non-compliance with, among others, the South African Maritime Legislative and Regulatory frameworks (as well as environmental legislation). It has also provided a platform to identify and act against those responsible for the illegal exploitation of resources within South Africa’s maritime zones. Initiative 5 focuses on joint proactive and reactive operations in the maritime environment, with multiple role-players, with different jurisdictions. The NATJOINTS, a forum comprised of various role-players as listed below and that are involved in the compliance and enforcement space, is utilised to execute such operations.
During the 2017/18 financial year, joint operations were conducted under the auspices of Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy Initiative 5 in the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal, for the third consecutive year. The operations included the Departments of Environmental Affairs, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Mineral Resources, as well as the Police, State Security Agency and Crime Intelligence, South African Revenue Service, SANParks, Cape Nature, City of Cape Town Law Enforcement, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency and Ndlambe local municipality.
As the world grapples with challenges such as poverty, economic growth, food security and high unemployment rates, the oceans have increasingly come under the spotlight as countries seek economic opportunities in the ocean space to address some of these challenges.
At the same time, there is increasing recognition that the world’s oceans are under severe pressure, especially from human activities. Some of the critical challenges include:
Marine pollution, in particular plastics (whether land-based or from shipping) and micro plastics;
Loss of biodiversity;
Unsustainable fishing practices and overfishing;
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing;
Ocean acidification; and
Between April 2017 and March 2018, 7 842 searches were conducted and 999 establishments were visited to check compliance. A total of 5 410 operations took place. These actions have seen the confiscation of goods worth R40 617 927.00, issuing of fines to the value of R215 220.00 and issuing of 43 coastal protection notices in terms Environmental Legislations to entities/persons who discharge to coastal waters without authorisations.
The concept of Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy has allowed for different departments, operating in joint environments, to achieve common operational objectives. The presence of an integrated law enforcement component allowed for a broad spectrum of risks and threats to be identified and mitigated. The number of abandoned caches, boats, narcotics and marine resources, is indicative of the positive influence visible Law Enforcement has in the environment, said Minister Molewa.
Operation Phakisa highlights government’s commitment to enhancing the Oceans Economy or Blue Economy, enforcing maritime and marine legislation and stopping the pillaging of marine resources by poachers and illegal foreign fishing vessels.
Dr Molewa said the results from the operations are indicative of the commitment by members of the participating departments to establish a secure maritime environment that will be appreciated by future generations.
A secure maritime environment will contribute to job creation and economic security within the coastal regions. The commitment by members who daily face hostility and aggressive tactics by both poachers and the linked crime syndicates deserves our recognition, said the Minister.
Source: Government of South Africa