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South African Journal of Science

versão On-line ISSN 1996-7489
versão impressa ISSN 0038-2353

S. Afr. j. sci. vol.116 no.5-6 Pretoria Mai./Jun. 2020


Also important to the development of a marine bioregional plan is the fundamental understanding of biodiversity movement patterns and ecosystem functioning. Algoa Bay is uniquely influenced by oceanographic features including warm tropical waters from the Agulhas Current and upwelling of cool, nutrient rich bottom waters. In addition, fresh water is fed into the Bay by rivers (largely the Swartkops and Sundays) as well as being fringed by the Alexandria Dunefield (Figure 1). These features, together with the physical geography, combine to provide habitats for a diversity of benthic invertebrate species (Figure 3). Ecosystems of special interest in the region include permanently and temporarily open/closed estuaries, rocky shores, islands, sandy beaches and coastal dunefields, coastal wetlands, peritidal tufa stromatolites as well as the pelagic and benthic ecosystem of the Bay and continental shelf.



The aims of the project are: (1) to map patterns of biodiversity distribution, abundance and composition of Algoa Bay; (2) to identify drivers of habitat segregation, species dispersal and connectivity and (3) to model interactions between indigenous and alien species. Research will focus on the dynamics of changing community structures and ecosystem processes in response to climate change and human-induced factors, such as alien species introductions, land-use change, residential/industrial development and associated pollution. The expected outcomes should include an updated, state-of-the-art assessment of each ecosystem, with high-resolution data across multiple scales of taxa.

The process of developing a marine bioregional plan will proceed in parallel, integrating existing and new knowledge as it becomes available from the biophysical mapping studies. We will apply best-practice systematic planning approaches using available data on biophysical patterns and processes. Data will be sourced from sub-projects 1-3 (Figure 2), spanning all habitats (intertidal to coastal to pelagic) and all levels of biodiversity (genes to ecosystems). Products will include a bioregional plan, but the collation of all spatial information in one format will provide added value. Once spatially explicit socio-economic data become available (Phase 2), the bioregional plan can be iteratively rerun, allowing the quantitative evaluation of trade-offs between human and environmental needs should they conflict, and to develop a transparent and sustainable marine zoning for the Bay. Novel approaches will include cross-realm planning (land to sea), the incorporation of tracking (animal movement), connectivity (e.g. larval transport) and risk (e.g. sea level rise, anthropogenic pollution) data into the plan, and scenario planning within a system dynamics modelling framework.


Legal landscape and development of legislative framework for Algoa Bay

The development of a Marine Spatial Plan for Algoa Bay must take place against the background of the complex legal regime governing activities in Algoa Bay (The Maritime Zones Act, 1994 [Act 15 of 1994]) with respect to internal waters and the territorial sea. Because the waters are part of the territory of South Africa, all domestic legislation applies. The National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act 24 of 2008) requires that Algoa Bay be managed in an integrated manner. Research will focus on a systematic evaluation of the consequences of the enactment of this Act on legislation and related activities in a specific geographic area. The development of the Marine Spatial Plan will need to take into account the legislative developments regarding the MSP Bill.3 Because the new Act will be the first of its kind in South Africa, a crucial component of this sub-project is to critically discuss the provisions of the Bill, both within the whole internal economy of the Bill and with regard to its relationship with other pieces of legislation, including the Constitution (especially Chapters 2 and 3), as well as with their implementing subordinate legislation.

The development of the Marine Spatial Plan also needs to take into account the scope of the legislative and executive jurisdictions of the Eastern Cape Province and the adjacent coastal municipalities as well as the extent to which they have made use of those jurisdictions. That is in addition to pieces of legislation impacting on relevant coastal activities on land. This research will constitute the first attempt at assessing to what extent both sets of legislation are synchronised and if the steps taken to enforce them are compatible. Finally, research will focus on the legal regime governing coastal and marine tourism and recreation in Algoa Bay (including related underwater and over water space as these spaces articulate with the maritime domain57), as well as the extent to which the Marine Spatial Plan ought to take into account the range of relevant factors affecting good governance of tourism activities on both sides of the low-water mark.



The Algoa Bay Project will develop the first Marine Spatial Plan in South Africa, and feed directly into the process for developing a national Marine Spatial Plan as set out by the MSP Bill (2017).3 The primary recipients of project outputs will be the National MSP Working Group, which has been tasked with producing the Marine Area Plans as set out in the MSP Framework.4 The project will also serve to support refinement and improvement of the process of developing these area plans. In Phase 1, the Algoa Bay Project aims to inform the biophysical and governance components of the overall system dynamics model, while Phase 2 will focus on the socio-economic component. All three components will then be combined in the overarching system dynamics model that can be used as a decision-support tool to design efficient strategies for the sustainable use of the Bay.

National stakeholders involved in Operation Phakisa that will benefit from this project include the Departments of Science and Technology (Marine and Antarctic Research Strategy), Environmental Affairs (the MSP process; Marine Protected Areas), Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (sustainable use of ocean resources); Mineral Resources; and Energy (mining, oil and gas exploration). Other important stakeholders include SANBI (Marine Programme), SANParks and the Transnet National Ports Authority which manage the Port Elizabeth and Ngqura harbours. Locally, the main beneficiaries of the project will be the adjacent municipalities (for example, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality) as well as civil society58 (which includes the private sector such as fisheries and tourism).

Finally, an important objective of the Algoa Bay Project is to raise the profile of marine science and the potential benefits of the 'Blue Economy' in the Eastern Cape, which is not traditionally known as a centre for marine research and development. This in turn should make the region more attractive for young scientists and entrepreneurs who in turn will help to develop the economic potential of the oceans and coasts of the Eastern Cape in a sustainable manner, to the benefit of all who live there.



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Rosemary Dorrington

PUBLISHED: 27 Mar. 2018

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A review of South Africa's National Research Foundation's ratings methodology from a social science perspective



Chris Callaghan

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