The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) research and polar vessel SA Agulhas II docked in Tanzania this week as part of South Africa’s second training and capacity building voyage for the International Indian Ocean Expedition II (IIOE2).
IIOE2 is a UN Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) multinational programme emphasising research of the Indian Ocean and its influence on climate as well as its marine ecosystems.
The IOC recognised a persistent lack of basic long-term environmental information on the Indian Ocean, particularly for countries surrounding it. This saw the IOC declare the beginning of IIOE2, 50 years after the first IIOE. Renewed interest in the area has brought numerous research voyages with state-of-the-art technology to the body of water. Data collection will cover physics, chemistry, plankton, biodiversity, large animals including whales and seabirds as well as geology.
Gathering basic long-term environmental data and information will place Indian Ocean developing countries in a better position to conserve the ocean’s integrity, find ways to unlock potential ocean economies and detect and adapt to ocean related threats to coastal communities and infrastructure according to the Department of Environmental Affairs. All these data provide important information to better understand the ocean environment and its links to developing a successful and sustainable ocean economy.
“South Africa has committed to this important initiative with research voyages in our own Indian Ocean waters,” a statement said.
“The ocean context and its links to climate change must see national efforts co-ordinated with regional programmes, as many processes occur and impact several countries at once. The impacts of extreme ocean-based events will affect economic and social aspects, particularly relevant in South Africa when considering the ocean economy strategy in the broader NDP Vision 2030 to address economic growth, poverty alleviation and job creation”.
“Additionally, in 2017 South Africa accepted the chair of IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) and Cabinet approved utilisation of the DEA research vessels, SA Agulhas II and RV Algoa, as research platforms for the IIOE2 period. This will enhance South Africa’s information base and assist African neighbours in understanding theirs.”