The SANBI Marine Programme is a small team of scientists that work across the science-policy continuum. This team works to deliver on the marine aspects of SANBI’s mandate as outlined in the Biodiversity Act i.e. monitor and report on the state of biodiversity in South Africa’s marine territory, co-ordinate research, provide knowledge and information, give planning and policy advice and pilot best-practice management models in partnership with stakeholders.

What we do

SANBI’s Marine Programme is uniquely placed to contribute to South Africa’s marine biodiversity sector. Our key strengths are:

  • The ability to provide synthesised policy advice based on best available science from multiple sources
  • The provision of independent co-ordinated science based advice to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and the Dept of Mineral Resources (DMR) and their respective stakeholders
  • The ability to leverage resources and data from a network of government and other role players through collaboration with partners (i.e. other government institutions, universities, research bodies and the public)
  • A unique position in convening and co-ordination of stakeholders
  • A unique approach in working across the traditional divides of science, policy and implementation

The focus areas of this programme have included marine biodiversity assessment, monitoring, planning, mainstreaming, information management and science-based policy advice.

Where we work

The Marine Programme works at a national level, but is also involved in regional and international initiatives. Our focus is on South Africa’s marine territory, which includes the Exclusive Economic Zone of mainland South Africa and the Prince Edward Islands.

Reason for our programme

Five high level objectives have been identified for SANBI’s Marine Programme:

  • Identify and monitor priority marine species and ecosystems.
  • Marine Biodiversity Information is collated and disseminated in an accessible form to researchers, planners, decision-makers and the general public.
  • Develop, pilot and mainstream innovative approaches to improve marine biodiversity information and management.
  • Coordinate cross-sectoral marine biodiversity programmes through a collaborative approach with partners and stakeholders.
  • Science-based biodiversity advice and policy support is provided to DEA, DAFF & other stakeholders.

Current Projects

Multi-partner collaborative projects are a key component of ensuring co-ordinated research and capactiy development in South Africa. You can get more information on each project by following the links below.

What we have achieved

The Marine Programme led the Marine and Coastal Component of the National Biodiversity Assessment 2011, published in 2012. This current assessment of the state of biodiversity in South Africa’s marine and coastal environment represents a milestone for marine biodiversity. Major new contributions include a new habitat classification, national habitat maps for the coast, ocean floor and the open ocean, a comprehensive review of pressures on marine and coastal biodiversity and a data driven assessment of biodiversity state for 136 habitat types. (Many of the products listed below are available on the Marine Products page)

Achievements in the areas of Assessment, Monitoring and Planning

The completion and dissemination of the National Biodiversity Assessment 2011: Marine and Coastal Component. The main products from the NBA 2011 include the development of the first draft national marine ecosystem classification and map along with a revised and more accurate digital coastline.

The Offshore Marine Protected Area (MPA) project developed and collated a substantial number of data layers to identify focus areas for Offshore MPA establishment through innovative spatial analysis. Among these are maps that reflect the national pressures and threats to marine biodiversity for the first time. These maps include data for 11 fisheries sectors, diamond mining, petroleum, shipping, naval activities and more than 10 layers reflecting coastal pressures such as access and climate change.

The Reef Atlas Project engaged civil society in developing the first national map of reef ecosystems to feed into the National Biodiversity Assessment.

Science-based advice and support for marine protected area planning on the West Coast of South Africa.

SANBI has played a supportive role in the identification and implementation of 21 new marine protected areas that would increase the area under protection in South Africa’s exclusive economic zone to over 72,000 square kilometres. 

Achievements in piloting of innovative ideas and Biodiversity Mainstreaming

Inclusion of marine information in the Mining and Biodiversity Guidelines

Co-ordinated scientific advice to support a Biodiversity Action Plan that identifies thematic and spatial biodiversity priority actions in the De Beers Offshore Diamond Mining lease area.

Partnered with DEA, DAFF & South African Environmental Observation Node (SAEON) in a collaborative research project with the oil and gas sector to build the biodiversity knowledge base to support decision-making and biodiversity management for this important sector.

Partnered with the trawling industry, DAFF and SAEON to support the eco-certification of South Africa’s hake fishery through the development of a collaborative experimental closure on South Africa’s west coast.

Achievements in the area of Information Management

Substantial new marine and coastal spatial data sets have been developed and collated, dramatically increasing the knowledge base to support spatial planning, environmental impact assessment and MPA establishment.

Collation of more than 1000 images of marine threatened species and rare images of deep water ecosystems and species that rely on expensive technology accessed through offshore industry collaboration and links with partner institutions.

Collating of information to support assessment of marine species status (e.g. IUCN Red List assessments).

Developing a digital linefish database and a collaborative project with DAFF and the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) to update linefish status reports and make this information accessible through the SeaKeys Species Pages.

Achievements in the area of Science-based Advice and Policy

  • SANBI has provided co-ordinated scientific advice, including to DEA, DAFF, DMR and Protected Area agencies. Advice has centred on:
  • Protected area planning and management.
  • Threatened species management and assessment.
  • Ecosystem-based management of the marine environment through Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF)
  • Co-ordination and participation in scientific review of SASSI list assessments
  • Policy advice on introduced and invasive species, mariculture, bioprospecting and small-scale fisheries

Who we are

The Marine Programme is based in Cape Town at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Dr Kerry Sink – Marine Programme Manager

Telephone: 021 799 8855

Ms Prideel Majiedt – Marine Projects Manager

Telephone: 021 799 8826

Ms Siyasanga Miza – Marine Alien Species Researcher

Telephone: 021 799 8716

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