The theme for World Oceans Day on June 8, 2021, is ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’, which explores how human activity impacts life underneath our oceans, and how this has an effect on the millions of people who use our oceans to make a living.
The United Nations estimates that by 2030, as many as 40 million people will be employed by ocean-based industries globally. However, scientists warn that destructive habits should be changed while using oceans to grow economies, as 90% of big fish populations have already been depleted and 50% of coral reefs have been destroyed.
The V&A Waterfront is aware of the need for a sustainable balance that connects the city and the sea. Each day, visitors arrive to shop, work or enjoy a relaxing outing. They also partake in sailing, fishing and refuelling boats in the harbour. Fish, seals, marine birds, dolphins, turtles and whales all form part of this busy exchange, and are essential for a healthy, biodiverse ocean.
Being mindful of its role and responsibility towards sustaining this crucial intersection between land and sea, V&A Waterfront CEO, David Green says, “The Ocean is front and centre of almost everything we do, so we have a dual responsibility to protect the ocean from harm, while still unlocking the economic opportunities it presents.”
The V&A’s Ocean Cluster is facilitating collaborations between all Ocean Economy tenants and stakeholders to create an inspirational example of sustainable, and socially responsible blue-economy engagement.
Ocean sustainability is a focal point in this regard, with measures put in place to protect the oceans and preserve marine resources. A dedicated crew of more than 90 people are responsible for collecting, handling, and sorting all of the property’s waste at the V&A Waterfront’s on-site Waste Recovery and Recycling Centre.
Over the last year, the team has collected over 3,500 tons of waste while managing to divert 33% of waste from the landfill through recycling and composting. Around 15% of recycled waste is plastic and in 2017, the V&A Waterfront made a public commitment to eliminate single-use plastics around the property.
The V&A Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, a Non-Profit and Public Benefit organisation that was established prior to lockdown in 2020, is another key driver of ocean sustainability. This includes well-established and respected marine science education programmes.
Among the work being done is the Waterfront’s Marine Wildlife Management Programme and the Turtle Rehabilitation Programme, which has been operating for almost a decade.
A well-known success story is about Yoshi, the injured turtle who was rehabilitated and released into the wild 20 years after her rescue. After the Aquarium fitted her with a GPS, people from all around the world followed her remarkable 41 000 km journey across the Indian Ocean from South Africa, up to Angola, back down to South Africa and to Australia.
Many turtles become entangled in fishing nets, ingest plastic, have their habitats destroyed or are killed for their shells. In 2020, 37 hatchlings and 10 sub-adult turtles were rescued. So far, 59 hatchlings have been rescued in the 2021 season while 53 turtles in total are currently in the programme.
With funding and support from the V&A Waterfront, the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation has also formalised the Marine Wildlife Management Programme to reduce conflict between wildlife, shipping, and other activities, while minimising injuries to wildlife in the harbour through forms of education.
During the lockdown in 2020, the programme disentangled 42 seals and responded to 178 wildlife call-outs for marine wildlife rescues and checks. A further 16 131 seal observations were logged, 2 883 hours were spent on marina patrols and 116 roofs were checked for birds.
The programme also monitors the health and quality of the waters of the Waterfront canals, marina and basins. A recent incident of mass fish deaths at the marina has been extensively investigated, and the Waterfront is working to resolve it.
In April, the V&A Waterfront announced the foundation of BlueCape, a collaborative partnership between the V&A and the City of Cape Town: “The primary intention of BlueCape is to grow our ocean-based economy by identifying and unlocking opportunities that will boost the creation of jobs that South Africa so desperately needs in a post-pandemic world.
“There are three key focus areas we’ve identified. One is marine manufacturing, which includes boat building and repairs, another is attracting superyachts to berth at the Waterfront by offering essential services such as repairs and crew changes, and the third is growing the number of ocean sports and sea trade events hosted in Cape Town by offering organisers a permanent platform here.”
Picture: Gareth Griffiths/Supplied