South Africa

South Africa

The current extent of South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone is approximately 1,553,000 km². Its ocean territory can be divided into three broad biogeographic regions (excluding the Prince Edward Island Group): the cool temperate West Coast; the warm temperate South-East Coast; and the subtropical East Coast.

South Africa began marine spatial planning in 2015. A “National Framework for Marine Spatial Planning” has been drafted in August 2016 for public comment. A national bill has been drafted that would authorise MSP, approved by Cabinet in 2017, and sent to Parliament.

The national framework provides high-level direction for undertaking MSP in the context of existing South African legislation and policies as well as existing planning regimes. It describes the process for the preparation of marine area plans and their implementation, to ensure consistency in MSP across the South African ocean territory. The framework would facilitate the development, implementation, monitoring and revision of marine area plans. The MSP system will enable the sustainable development of South Africa’s ocean territory.

MSP is intended to provide the following benefits for the South Africa:

  • Facilitate the unlocking of the ocean economy and sustainable ocean economic development;
  • Enhance the achievement of societal benefits and strengthen the level of society’s interaction with the ocean;
  • Promote a healthy marine environment and the sustainable use of marine resources; and
  • Contribute to good ocean governance.

The Cabinet of South Africa has designated the Department of Environmental Affairs as the lead department for MSP in South Africa. The Department of Environmental Affairs will collaborate with all relevant national authorities that have a mandate relating to marine planning and management through a governmental working group that will develop MSP and steer and oversee the MSP process. This includes having lead responsibility for the preparation of the national framework and for marine area plans.

The marine area plans will be prepared sequentially; a period of two to three years is anticipated to prepare the first of four plans covering sub-areas of the EEZ. Planning for the four regions covering entire EEZ is to be completed by 2021

The MSP programme is part of a larger programme, the Marine Spatial Management and Governance Programme (MARISMA), that covers the Benguela Current region and seeks to establish sustainable ocean use. The lead agency for the MARISMA programme is the Benguela Current Commission located in Namibia. Funding (€8.9 million for Angola, Namibia, and South Africa over six years, 2015-2020) is from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

Updates will be posted on this website as MSP activities in South Africa develop.

south africa


Authority:National legislation
Lead Planning Agency:Department of Environmental Affairs
Financing:Not known or approved at this time
Size of Planning Area:Exclusive Economic Zone and Territorial Sea (0-200 nm)
Time required to complete the plans:2-4 years
Drivers of MSP:Need for a more integrated approach; Economic growth concerns; Perceived conflicts among uses, e.g., marine mining v. fishing; Perceived conflicts between uses and nature conservation, e.g., marine protected areas; Marine conservation or biodiversity concerns; New and emerging uses of the marine area, e.g., wind energy, aquaculture; Effects of climate change (e.g., sea-level rise)
Stakeholder participation:After each critical phase that requires stakeholder buy-in
Sectors included in planning:All
Relation to coastal management:Weak connection to adjacent coastal management program
Relation to marine protected area management:Not specified
Plan approval:Planning to plan, but not yet underway
Legal Status of Plan:Regulatory/Enforceable
Plan revision:Review/revision every 4-5 years
Performance monitoring and evaluation:Not specified


Draft National MSP bill
Draft National Framework for MSP