The marine and coastal environments form a large and important part of the area that falls under South Africa‚Äôs jurisdiction. South Africa's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) stretches 200 nautical miles into the sea from the coastline and around the Indian and Atlantic islands under its authority. This equates to an area of 1.54 million km2, which is rich in marine and coastal resources. To be able to manage and conserve the marine and coastal environments requires access to base geospatial datasets. Geospatial data are key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2063, and the National Development Plan (NDP). 

This requires the defining of criteria for the identification of base geospatial datasets in the marine and coastal environments. It also requires the key thematic areas within which these baseline data sets occur to be identified. The data custodians will then be identified that will be responsible for maintaining and managing these geospatial data sets for decision making purposes in South Africa.

The mandate to conduct this study comes from a resolution of the Committee for Spatial Information (CSI) established under the Spatial Data Infrastructure Act (Act No. 54of 2003). More specifically, the mandate comes from Section 6.2 of the Base Data Set Custodian Policy, which is to identify base datasets in the marine and coastal environment and appoint responsible data custodians.

The National Spatial Information Framework (NSIF) Directorate within the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) is responsible for implementing and monitoring the Spatial Data Infrastructure Act. The SDI Act provides for establishing the South African Spatial Data Infrastructure (SASDI). The Department has appointed a consortium led by GeoScope SA to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the marine and coastal domain in South Africa. The outcome of the project includes inter alia:

a)      Approved criteria for identifying marine and coastal base data sets;

b)      Approved list of base data sets, their associated data custodians and themes;

c)      A proposed method of integrating the Marine and Coastal Spatial Data Infrastructure (MCSDI) into the South African Spatial Data Infrastructure (SASDI) framework; and

d)      Recommend a fit-for-purpose structure for the MCSDI within the SASDI framework.

The DALRRD has mandated the consortium to identify key marine and coastal environment stakeholders and interview them. The focus of the interviews is to solicit input towards compiling the criteria for base datasets and custodians within the marine and coastal domain. Furthermore, to identify base datasets and their associated data custodians. It will also discuss methods for integrating MCSDI into SASDI and a fit for purpose structure and best practices.

The consortium has conducted a comprehensive literature review of marine and coastal initiatives internationally, continentally, and nationally to define an initial set of criteria, base datasets, data custodians and themes. Approaches used to incorporate MCSDI into national SDI were reviewed as were the governance structures and best practices. Through the literature review key stakeholders associated with marine and coastal geospatial data sets were also identified. You and your organization have been identified as a key stakeholder to participate in the online survey.

Having completed the survey of stakeholder, the findings will be synthesised into a final set of recommendations that will be presented back to stakeholders for their feedback. The workshops will be held in the four coastal provinces as well as nationally in June 2022. From the research, recommendations will be made to the Department on the effective establishment of the MCSDI.

Your opinion is important to this study as we need to obtain reliable, user-oriented information. We therefore request that you answer the questions that follow as candidly and as fully as possible. We would also ask that you inform other departments and organizations within the marine and coastal domains about the study so that they will also have an opportunity to complete the questionnaire.

The Department appreciates your support and looks forward to partnering with you in this process. Should you wish to make further enquiries regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact Ms Maroale Chauke, Director: National Spatial Information Framework, at telephone number (012) 312 9643 or at the email address: Maroale.chauke@dalrrd.gov.za. Alternatively, contact the project manager Craig Schwabe at (082) 904 0955 or at Email craig@geoscope-sa.com.
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