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The Department of Environmental Affairs held a workshop in Cape Town on Thursday to look into the opportunities that the ocean economy presents for South Africa and its international partners.
The department hosted the Antarctica and Southern Ocean Workshop as part of the second leg of the week-long Norway-South Africa Science Week at Kirstenbosch Gardens.
« As part of the future strategies, South Africa plans to cooperate with Norway to see how it can service countries that leave for Antarctica through the country.
« Another key strategy is the proposal for air corridor tourism activities such as snow skiing and skating, snow kite boarding, marine, animal, scenic and bird viewing … in Antarctica, [which] could boost the economic potential for South Africa, » the department said in a statement on Friday.
South Africa and Norway are key partners with a wide variety of joint research programmes and share a historical and common interest in Antarctica. Norway handed South Africa its first base on Antarctica in 1959.
Under the theme ‘Value Creation in Ocean Space – New Opportunities in the Blue Economy’, Science Week brought together and forged new relationships from different stakeholders of national entities, infrastructure holders, key players from higher education, research, innovation and business in South Africa and Norway, who shared their perspectives and expertise.
Various sessions took place with the aim of identifying potential joint work areas and project concepts, as well as identifying the scope for enhancing South Africa as a Gateway to Antarctica.
« Although progress has been made regarding research on Antarctica, there still remains vast opportunities for scientific research and innovation on which South Africa and Norway can collaborate, » the department said.
The oceans around South Africa represent the largest wilderness space, however the country only derives about 4% of its GDP from this.
The department said South Africa has an opportunity to present itself as a gateway to Antarctica for many countries that have a presence on the icy continent.
« There are, however, a number of budget constraints… which require finding new sources of funding that can be identified and ventured into.
« Some key economic reasons to allocate budget towards the Antarctic region are that South Africa has a global position, status and stewardship and there is public goods provision, gateway income and support of sustainable development such as catching fish, » the department said.
Norway-South Africa Science Week concludes today.