Algoa Bay Sea Ethic Principles
“The people of Algoa Bay, inspired by the global Hope Spot initiative, are guided by the belief that oceans are regarded as the “last frontier” on earth, and in this regard the people recognize the importance of oceans to the continued existence of life on our planet and to human futures. The people therefore pledge their commitment to promote reverence for the sea and to encourage an ethical responsibility for humans to protect the sea. The following guiding principles are therefore designed to encourage all people to work together to sustain a healthy and safe ocean environment for all users of Algoa Bay’s considerable marine resources”.
Ethical Principles for a Safe and Healthy Ocean
The following ethical principles are most relevant for coastal and ocean stakeholders comprising organized business, recreational users, maritime authorities, academics and maritime institutions, marine scientists and researchers, clubs and associations, communities, coastal and marine tourism service providers, and local residents.
Ethics are defined as standards of behaviour that tell us how human beings ought to act in the many situations in which they find themselves as friends, parents, children, citizens, business people, teachers professionals, and so on. Ethics have popularly been named “moral values” or “community standards”. In a professional setting ethics is better understood as “standards set by the profession”. Professional bodies have their own “code of ethics” or “code of conduct”.
In the context of the global “Hope Spot” initiative, the 12 Sea Ethic principles have been identified as those which could have a profound impact on the future condition of the oceans and the quality of life of humans. This condition can only be improved by a sense of moral obligation not governed by rules and regulations but rather by love and respect for the blue heart of the planet.
Sea Ethic Principle 1: Last Frontier on Earth
Oceans have remained a vast frontier whose mysterious depths, abundant life and influence on earth have yet to be fully explored and understood by Mankind. The ocean space represents a unique socio-cultural entity that has offered sustenance and a distinct culture and way of life for centuries.
Sea Ethic Principle 2: Influence of Oceans
Oceans decisively influence Earth’s ecological balance, as well as world geopolitics, globalisation and socio-economic forces. The oceans cover two thirds of the world’s surface and have afforded the human populace freedom to explore, acquire and use its natural resources and wealth. As such, all of the world’s population as well as all living things are dependent on the oceans.
Sea Ethic Principle 3: The Blue Economy
There is an urgent imperative to develop a sustainable “blue economy” initiative which would be a marine version of the green economy, one that improves the well-being of local citizens and communities while significantly reducing marine environmental risks as well as ecological and biodiversity deficiencies. Such a blue economy must recognise that a failure to sustain the oceans will lead to dire consequences for all humanity.
Sea Ethic Principle 4: Ocean Governance
Ocean industries of all kinds are expanding rapidly and impacts on the marine environment are expanding at an ever increasing rate and global scale affecting endangered species, ecosystem health, critical habitats and coastal communities that depend on marine areas for food and livelihood. Ocean Governance is defined as an overarching attempt to steer, control or manage sectors or facets of society that depend on or impact on the oceans and coasts. This means that rules of conduct on those areas of the ocean beyond any national jurisdiction can only be implemented through agreements. Whilst there is no single jurisdiction that governs the Algoa Bay Maritime Domain, coastal and ocean stakeholders residing within the local domain are encouraged to adopt an ethical approach to the protection and responsible use of the marine resources with which Algoa Bay is so richly endowed.
Sea Ethic Principle 5: The Stewardship Approach
Stewardship, with respect to oceans and seas, simply means people taking care of the Blue Planet in recognition of the fact that their future depends on it. In its broadest sense, it refers to the essential role individuals and communities play in the careful management of our common natural and cultural wealth, both now and for future generations. More specifically, it can be defined as efforts to create, nurture, and enable responsibility in coastal communities and resource users to manage and protect the ocean and its natural and cultural heritage. Stewardship builds on our sense of obligation to, and dependence on, other people i.e. our family, our community, and future generations by fostering individual and community responsibility. The stewardship approach puts conservation in the hands of the people most affected by it.
Stewardship emphasizes the integration of people and nature, not the attempted isolation of one from the other. About 14% of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks, world heritage sites, monuments, etc.), while less than one percent of the ocean is protected in any way. Hope Spots are committed to changing this. Networks of marine protected areas maintain healthy biodiversity, provide a carbon sink, generate life-giving oxygen, preserve critical habitat and allow low-impact activities like ecotourism to thrive.
Sea Ethic Principle 6: Marine Scientific Research
The importance of marine scientific research is a critical underpinning of effective measures to preserve the marine environment and ensure the sustainable use of ocean resources. Considerable progress has been made in marine science, including the discovery of new species and new features in the ocean depths. The biggest threat to the health of the marine environment stems from land-based activities. Pollutant and nutrient input into the marine environment can disrupt the delicate balance of marine ecosystems and destroy in particular vulnerable ecosystems. This type of pollution poses danger to human health by contaminating shell fisheries, water intakes and bathing areas. It also introduces significant amounts of plastics and other debris to coastal waters, threatening marine life through entanglement, suffocation and ingestion. The problems facing the marine environment are closely interrelated and cannot be tackled in isolation, but must be resolved through integrated management of resources and environmentally sound economic development.
Sea Ethic Principle 7: Sharing of Marine Research Knowledge and Information
The Blue Economy will only realise its full potential across all its different sectors if it is built on a solid base of marine scientific research. Research ensures that growth does not come at the expense of the marine environment. Sustainability must be ensured and the seas and oceans must be cleansed so that future generations can continue to enjoy the benefits. Knowledge and information are the keys to reducing pressure on resources and ensuring that oceans remain healthy for future generations. There is a need to find ways of working together that encourage the flow of research-based knowledge and information between different marine sectors, between land and sea, and between communities. Excellent science must underpin efforts to conserve the marine environment, to ensure that activities are sustainable and to forecast and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Humans are changing the oceans at a global scale and the changes are disrupting ecosystems and food webs. Since we are all connected to the oceans, we have a responsibility to act together to find solutions based on the best available information. Hope Spots can assist with the unlocking of relevant marine scientific research studies and also with the communication of the findings for the benefit of all. It matters not only because of the direct benefits ocean resources provide for humanity but because just as the oceans affect weather around the world, so do our actions around the world affect the oceans. Global climate change is real and it’s happening now. The planet has heated up over the past century. Carbon dioxide levels are rising, and sea levels are too. Animals and plants are disappearing from some places and appearing in others. The oceans are a leading indicator of climate change. Studying changes in the ocean helps us understand the causes and effects of a changing climate.
Sea Ethic Principle 8: The Ecosystem Approach
While there is no single internationally agreed-upon ecosystem approach or definition of an “ecosystem approach”, the concept is generally understood to encompass the management of human activities, based on the best understanding of the ecological interactions and processes, so as to ensure that ecosystems structure and functions are sustained for the benefit of present and future generations. The concept builds on a number of existing tools and approaches, such as integrated coastal and ocean management, with greater emphasis on ecosystem goals and objectives. Hope Spots support an “ecosystem approach” in conjunction with responsible governance of the local maritime space. The ecosystem approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. It recognizes that humans, with their cultural diversity, are an integral component of ecosystems.
Sea Ethic Principle 9: Managing Conflicts of Interest
With each activity competing for the same space, conflicts of interest exist among different economic user groups. Many of the marine scientific research and maritime safety and maritime security issues are beyond the capacity of any individual authority, association or organization to tackle alone. Growing dependency on ocean use for food security has the potential for conflict among and within the local maritime space. In addition, growth in the intensity of ocean use is impinging on the carrying capacity of the marine environment. Hope Spots are intended to bring people together to ensure that all marine related developments (onshore, near shore and off-shore) undergo proper feasibility studies which include risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis. Knowledge is required before such decisions can be made.
Sea Ethic Principle 10: Collaboration
The private sector is the primary ocean user and is best placed to develop and implement the practices needed to ensure marine ecosystem use is sustainable and an increasing number of companies and industry associations are tackling the environmental effects of their ocean activities. However, in a local and global, interconnected ocean "commons", the actions of one company or even an entire sector are not enough to address cumulative impacts of growing ocean use by a diverse range of industries. There is clearly a need for ocean industries to collaborate within and across sectors to address impacts, reduce conflicts, develop proactive ocean sustainability leadership and constructively engage other stakeholders. Algoa Bay coastal and ocean stakeholders are encouraged to use the Hope Spot initiative to engage the ocean business community. This would enhance the research and innovation on marine and climate issues, foster innovation and lay the foundations for a joint, responsible management of marine resources in Algoa Bay and throughout the Indian Ocean. Oceans are ever shifting, with different layers and zones connecting and influencing each other. Collaboration must also create rich interconnections between policymakers, industry, researchers and citizens. Perhaps what is even more important with respect to collaboration is that Hope Spots create a cross-community platform and vehicle from which all people can take positive steps to improve coasts and seas and thereby assist others to achieve sustainability.
“People ask: Why should I care about the ocean? Because the ocean is the cornerstone of earth’s life support system, it shapes climate and weather. It holds most of life on earth. 97% of earth’s water is there. It’s the blue heart of the planet and we should take care of our heart. It’s what makes life possible for us. We still have a really good chance to make things better than they are. They won’t get better unless we take the action and inspire others to do the same thing. No one is without power. Everybody has the capacity to do something”. (Dr Sylvia Earle).
Sylvia Earle’s Hope Spot Wish
“I wish you would use all means at your disposal – films, the web, expeditions, new submarines, a campaign! – to ignite public support for a network of global marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet”.